The Adventures Of Fatherhood – June 3, 2022

Teens have a way of sucking the goodness out of situations.

Harsh I know, but it’s the reality sometimes with my 14-year-old moody one. It’s just a phase I can’t telling myself and eventually the boy I know so well will return. Until then my little pet name for him will be soul-sucker.

The little nickname came to mind last weekend when I took Beckett to his first job at Surfside Rooster in West Ocean City. As we were driving, I was offering some typical parental reminders – basically do whatever is asked of you and do it politely so they ask you back.

It seemed like he was indulging me and at one point I thought I could say just about anything and gotten the same, “yes I now” response in return.

When we arrived to the restaurant 10 minutes early, I requested (demanded) a photo. The end result was not pretty. I managed to get one that was blurry, and it just happened to be of his back as he sprinted inside.

As I was heading to the car, he opened the door and said, “you’re not coming in?” I had assumed he wanted me out of there. I walked in for a couple minutes and he was off and on his way to his first job as a bus boy and food runner for a busy restaurant.

When I picked him up six hours later, the kid had the audacity to not want to recap his first shift. He gave me a few details, basically “I like it.” Instead, he wanted to play his type of music really loud with all the windows down. This is typically one of my favorite summertime things to do, but his music choice does put a damper on it.

As we walked in the door, Pam was waiting anxious to hear about his first day. Before I could even let her know it was best not to prod in his current mood, he sat down and recapped what he did in detail. His willingness to talk to her about it baffled me. He said he would prefer to tell the story once rather than twice. It made sense.

Next came the conversation about the importance of saving the money he earned. Though we have talked at length about the concept of using his bank account and putting aside money for his own car, he seemed in shock when it came time to talk about making a bank deposit.

When Carson is done school for the day, he is literally done for the day.

It’s funny to watch. Pam does most of the school pickups but at least once a week I usually grab him from school. It’s certainly a great thing for me because he’s usually surprised to see me at pickup time. It’s also typically a Friday when I get him.

Once he comes through the door from school, he runs at me and jumps into my arms. When he was smaller, this was fun as I could lift him in the air and roughhouse with him a bit. Nowadays, he’s a big sixth grader and I am more like a tackling dummy in a football drill. He could easily take me down if I am not bracing for impact.

After running and jumping on me, Carson tosses aside his backpack as if to say I won’t be needing this anytime soon with the weekend’s arrival. Before I can even fasten my seatbelt, he’s motioning for me to hurry up and get home. I offer to take him for ice cream he points toward home. I suggest an iced drink from Dunkin’ as a reward for a good week, but he says no. I propose we go for a long walk to nowhere and he laughs, pointing toward home.

As soon as we get home, he races to a nearby chair to take off his shoes. He demands I immediately smell his feet and react demonstratively at their odor. He then flings off his shirt. Because it’s Friday, the object of his eye is his iPad without restrictions.

Assuming his week has been a productive one at school, we are fine with it. It’s a reward at the end of a long school week. School is hard for him. He deserves the downtime doing what he wants. Once he has his iPad and is comfortably relaxing, he points me away with what seems like aggression but he’s joking. It’s our routine.

Whoever thought of the concept of final exams in school must have liked torture.

Carson, a sixth grader, has two full weeks of school left with no big testing looming over him before summer, while Beckett has just three regular days of eighth grade left before four days of final exams.

While both are excited for the end of school, Beckett is already in full summer mode. The problem is in his case he has a major last crunch to get through before he can burn his bookbag – something he says he wants to do on his final day.

The last few weeks of school are exciting times. There are field trips, the conclusion of sports seasons, music shows, warm weather and a general easing of homework. The exception are the looming finals.

As I have commiserated with other parents, we all just want it to end. It seems we are all just trying to encourage our kids along to the finish line. There are varying degrees of success and failures depending on the households evidently.

As for our kid, we are tending toward the middle overall. It just depends on the day. Throughout the course of the school year, he has found independent success when he plans out his homework and studying rather than letting it all pile up until it’s due.

With the school year winding down, he has tended toward his former habits of last-minute work, resulting in anxiety for himself and subsequently his parents. This last stretch will be a test for all of us.

Safe to say I think all teachers, students and parents are counting down the days to summer break.

About The Author: Steven Green

Alternative Text

The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.