The Adventures Of Fatherhood – January 20, 2023

For the second consecutive year, Beckett and I did the AGH Penguin Swim together on New Year’s Day.

The word “together” should really be used in the loosest fashion possible. It was more like we attended the event and along with more than 900 people jumped in the same ocean.

After driving to Ocean City, my 14-year-old bolted to immediately look for friends. When it was time to head to the beach and jump in the ocean, he was nowhere to be found. It turns out he was just 10 feet away hiding. When I ordered him to come closer to me, lovingly so, the kid and his friends would not stand with me. Instead, they put a group of strangers in between us. When I would approach my son and his friends the conversation stopped abruptly. I eventually gave up and may or may not have been a bit hot under collar.

When the countdown began, he came over toward me. Once the buzzer went off, he sprinted to the ocean out of my sight amid hundreds of other nearby crazy souls. I never saw him again until he was looking for a towel and his clothes, before taking off again with friends out of sight.

About an hour later, he popped up next to the stage I was standing on during the awards presentation. A few minutes later, he showed up again during a television interview several of us associated with the hospital were taking part in. A few minutes later, he showed himself again, asking if it was time to go yet.

On the way home, I thanked him for coming with me. I was joking but he didn’t get it. He said, “of course this is our dad and son New Year’s tradition.” I found the comment funny. He then reminded me to send him any pictures. I was surprised he looked at the event in a special way. Evidently, he looked at it as a bonding experience, though we were not together for any of it.

It was good to know he enjoyed the penguin swim, however.


It’s the best way to describe communication with our son at boarding school.

I am convinced I will never get used to this new normal for our family, but each time I speak with him and hear he’s happy I realize we did the right thing.

It was about a year ago when Beckett first came to us with the concept of doing something different for school. He loves his home and this area, but he seemed to be wanting more. Pam and I didn’t know specifically what it was he was craving and/or needed, but it became clear it was the new school after a couple visits.

Boarding school for my kid was the most difficult decision in my life. The easiest, but most selfish, thing would have been to tell him he could not go, and we would not pay for it. After months of prayer and discussion, we agreed this sacrifice was best for him. We decided to take each year as it comes and stay involved in all aspects of his life, despite him sleeping three hours from home. He still very much needs his parents.

It was recently time to commit to next year. We talked with Beckett a lot over the holiday break about what he wanted to do for his sophomore year. When we first discussed it, we told him to think deeply about it and we would huddle again. A few days later, he told us he wanted to continue at boarding school, though admitting he wished it was closer to home at times.

Communicating with Beckett while at school is interesting. It can be frustrating at times because of his age, but it’s always entertaining and usually involves some laughter. Most of our conversations are simple check-ins while others are about needs and wants. We talk or text multiple times each day. These chats are good for the heart and soul. Oftentimes these are short talks about this or that. I need to talk to him each day, even if it’s meaningless and just sharing a sports clip with him. I think Pam feels the same way (minus the sports part).

Though there are heavy parenting conversations from time to time, recent text threads show the randomness of our conversations.

Him: Dad, something is the matter with my phone. I can’t Facetime, it won’t load.

Me: Okay but it’s 2 p.m. and you’re in class. Give your phone a restart and let’s talk about it later.

I immediately saw the familiar three dots and then nothing until he Facetimed me at 8 p.m. with a red hat on and three heart-shaped sunglasses.

Him: Dad, we are all so hungry we are just eating peanut butter out of the jar with spoons.

Me: I love peanut butter. I guess Facetime is working.

Him: Yeah, it was broken, now it’s fine.

Me: Where did you get all those heart glasses?

Him: What glasses?

A day later, he reached out.

Him: The weekend you all are here we have an indoor soccer tournament. Coach wants me to play, okay with you all?

Me: Let me know the details, like where and when?

Him: I need some new indoor shoes.

Him: Hello?

Me: I think you should just wear regular shoes; we just got you new basketball shoes.

Him: Ok, I will play in high tops. I’m not going to play as well though.

Me: Cool, where is the tournament?

Him: (Four hours later) not sure.

Me: Let us know when you know.

Him: It’s here, I think.

Me: Find out for sure please.

Him: Ok.

I am still waiting on that as of press time.

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.