The Adventures Of Fatherhood – January 27, 2023

Another installment of some “I see you …” thoughts over the last few weeks. I intend this as more of a “I see you and I feel you” type of observations. We are all in this parenting journey together and a bit of recognition and appreciation goes a long way.

• I see you … tired dads wondering why I left the list at home wandering the aisles of the grocery store at 8 p.m.

• I see you … parents waiting in the car early in the morning while your teen runs into Dunkin’ for a pre-school snack or drink. Some of you are on your phones. Some of you just staring off into the distance. Some probably wondering why this stop is even necessary.

• I see you … parents of teens posting Facebook memories of your kid much younger during the toddler years. If you are like me, you have to come realization it was so much easier overall then. It was more difficult from a physical standpoint because they were so active and a danger to themselves, but the mental anguish of raising teens is far more exhausting than those simpler days.

• I see you … parents leaving the daycare center next to my office. I remember well the deep breath exhale of leaving the kid(s) behind to start the day.

• I see you … parents full of second guessing and guilt about decisions. I’m the worst at this constant questioning of judgments and reactions. I am working to learn to trust the gut, listen to the mind and heart and move forward.

• I see you … parents reviewing your teen’s checking account statements with far more questions than answers about expenses.

• I see you … folks wondering why showers take a minimum of 15 minutes for teens. I often consider turning off the hot water just to mess with my 14-year-old kid and teach him a lesson. For years, I have told him about limits of hot water, but he doesn’t believe me. One of these days I will do it and my guess is it will have a chilly impact.

• I see you … parents rolling through the drop-off at school and feeling the pressure of the early-morning rush, Combine the chaos of getting kids to school on time with your own plans for the day, it’s not always easy. In my case, each day is different. One morning this week I resisted drinking my coffee so I could have it for the ride to school with Carson. As I was leaving the driveway, I realized I forgot it. I assumed I left it on the counter in the house until I got home later and realized I left it on the asphalt. My hands were full, so I set it down and forgot within seconds about it. It was still there when I got home from work.

• I see you … parents having a conversation with your teen and wondering where he or she is looking because clearly the focus is not on you. When this happens to me, I intentionally say the most ridiculous thing so I can confirm my 14-year-old is not listening. During one period of heightened frustration, I told him it was best to be without his phone for a month. A few minutes went by without a reaction. Eventually, something registered and he said, “what was that about my phone again?” There may be a little bit of hearing going on, but there’s next to no listening happening.

Another example was last weekend when I called him at boarding school to remind him we would be there the following weekend. When we were wrapping up the chat, he asked when he would see us again and wondered when we were going skiing. In that case, I don’t think he was hearing me or listening to me.

• I see you … sports dads talking to your child about their game as they walk off the soccer field, offering tips and suggestions on the kid’s level of play and energy level. Take it from me: this is the last thing your young athletes need. I know because I, too, did not have enough restraint to let my kid catch his breath after a game or practice. I was able to wait until we got in the car to head home, but I was often informing him of my views before he got out of the parking lot. I regret those reactions looking back. It’s not what he needed from his dad.

• I see you … mothers slowly walking through the grocery store aisle after work. I assume there’s an enjoyment
of the peace and quiet after a long day before heading home with a load of groceries and responsibilities.

• I see you … fathers running to get carryout at a restaurant for the family but first having a drink to just chill and relax before returning home.

• I see you … teachers seemingly starting each day with fresh perspective and positivity. This can’t be easy – especially on Mondays — but I know in my case it’s appreciated.

• I see you … parents animatedly walking in the early evenings with friends or on a phone call. I have no idea what’s being said, but I imagine it involves a story or two about children. It appears to a stranger to be a serious vent session among friends, which we all need every now and again. Add exercise to the equation and it’s a good use of time if you ask me.

• I see you … coaches doing the best you can on the sidelines and wondering why I volunteered for this role on Saturday mornings after working all week. The answer is love, and it’s a super thing.

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.