The Adventures Of Fatherhood – October 14, 2022

Homecoming weekend festivities brought Beckett home for a couple days from boarding school.

It was a whirlwind 48 hours, but it was great to see him. While it was so foreign at first to not have our oldest son around, it’s weird how life adapts. Now, after two months away at school, it seems strange when he’s home.

Boarding school for Beckett was the biggest decision of our lives. It was something we prayed about and anguished over for months. He brought the idea to us a couple years ago asking for a change. So far, we have no regrets. He’s happy and content at his new school overall.

There have been some maturity and independence hiccups along the way, but we expected these things. He’s 14 years old after all. He’s learning what it’s like to get up on his own every morning without his parents. He’s living among students from 23 different countries. He’s being forced to try new foods previously never an option. He’s learning what it’s like to live with three other boys his age.

As his parents, we are learning a lot as well about our levels of involvement with him and what our engagement should be. Throughout his life, we were probably guilty of micromanaging him. He needed our guidance through reminders about this or that and some hovering to keep him on track. He called us “too strict” more times than I can remember, but it never bothered me. Parenting is about following the gut in my opinion, and we do what we think is right at the time. Sometimes hindsight finds it was the wrong call, but more times than not time confirms the right decisions were made.

A key premise of boarding school is being part of a community. Many teachers live on campus in houses and some even “on dorm.” Each adult who works at the school wears multiple hats. The humanities teacher is also the football coach and a dorm parent. The algebra teacher is also a student advisor and sailing coach. The grade dean also serves as a diversity club advisor, life skills teacher and assistant volleyball coach. The concept is the students and adults live and work together in what culminates in a community. As the evolution continues, the adults learn a lot about the students and trust is built. It seems to be a healthy thing.

It’s been interesting to follow Beckett’s lead as far as coming home. Most weekends are busy on his campus so he stays there. When he hears of a fun weekend at home, he asks about coming home. We want to see him so we do whatever it takes.

Whenever we are nearing his campus returning from home, he asks me when’s the next time he would see us. He says it’s just something he likes to keep in the back of his head.

It’s a good thing for us too because life is just different, not terrible, without him at home. There’s more time and space. I am not sure we will ever get used to this new life. I still get sad when I walk into his room. It’s a constant state of mixed emotions. Missing him but happy for this new chapter in his life because of all the new experiences he is having. It’s what I imagine parents work through as they transition after their kids go to college.

Though it’s just been two months, I think boarding school is resulting in a newfound awareness about his parents, and we have seen a marked change in how he treats us. He has sent us some random heartfelt texts about his life to date. I think these are a result of some writing exercises that are causing reflection. These are quite different than normal for him. Most of his life he has taken us for granted. It’s normal I think especially for a young teen.

When he comes home now, I notice a bit of relief, or maybe it’s peace. He likes his school and enjoys the new life he is starting there, but he’s come to truly appreciate being home. The peace and quiet and familiar confines of his room seem to be most welcomed as compared to sharing a quad with three other boys.

I can see his mixed emotions. He even said at one point, “sometimes I wish I was a day student at my new school, but then I would miss my friends in my dorm.” It’s been interesting to observe this new introspective side.

As we were walking out the door to church Sunday morning, he asked what the plan was for the rest of the day. I told him we would get on the road about lunch time to head back to school. He remarked how fast the weekend went by but was looking forward to seeing his friends and three soccer games this week. He’s happy at both places for different reasons.

Though he’s not physically laying his head at home every night, there is still plenty of parenting that goes on even though we are 200 miles away. We just aren’t living with him. We hear from him daily in some fashion. Sometimes he needs something, like yesterday. Sometimes he’s asking a question. More often he’s responding to us.

A few weeks ago, I texted him good morning and to make sure he was up. Consistently waking up and getting to breakfast sign-in on time has been the biggest challenge thus far. He didn’t respond for hours, as visions of him sleeping in his bed ran through my head. I finally remembered he was on a mandatory three-day immersion trip on the river – without phones — as part of the curriculum. I had forgotten until we got a picture of him from his advisor holding a hawk in the woods. It was a unique experience for him that balances out the missing him.

About The Author: Steven Green

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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.