The Adventures Of Fatherhood – June 23, 2023

Earlier this month, and here’s  your sappy column alert, Beckett finished ninth grade and Carson put a wrap on seventh grade. I needed a couple weeks to process it, as time seems to be flying these days.

Maybe it was Father’s Day last weekend or just winds of nostalgia blowing through me, but of late I have been doing double takes of my kids. I am in a bit of shock over how old they are and how much they are changing physically. I see them every day, but there are random moments when I can’t seem to process all these personality and appearance changes. I find comfort in knowing all parents have these realizations as their kids are growing up.

I try to live the mantra “the best ability is availability.” I don’t want to miss much in their lives if anything at all. My goal since becoming a dad was always to put family first and be present. No matter what life throws at me, everything starts and ends with my family in my heart. The last thing I do every night before going to bed is check on my kids in their rooms. Among the first things I do every morning after waking up is check on my boys. Many of my close friends feel the same, and one of my favorite things in life is to catch up with buddies and share parenting stories. These reflections are not always roses and sunflowers, and there are times when it’s a commiseration session among friends. This is parenting and the journey is full of trials and tribulations.

When it comes to my sons, who are now 15 and 13 years old, the last week of school was especially chaotic this year, and I did not have a lot of time to reflect on it until this week. Each of them had unique experiences this year.

When I think about Beckett’s freshman year, it was quite the adventure, beginning with his desire to try something new with boarding school in Virginia. We approached this new chapter with excitement for him but also a broken heart. I will never forget the drive back home last August when we dropped him off for pre-season soccer. Those first weeks at home without him there were difficult. As happens in life, we adjusted to a new normal and a long-distance relationship with our kid. It was essentially college, but four years earlier. All was fine, even great most days, for the first few months until it wasn’t. Things changed with him slowly but surely. We could see his feelings and approach wavering. Beckett realized home is indeed where he wanted to be after all around the holidays. He returned for the second semester to Worcester Prep, where he had attended since pre-kindergarten, with a fresh perspective and appreciation for his hometown.

It was a significant year in his life. It’s one he nor his parents will ever forget. Nothing about it was easy but life rarely is no matter your age. When I hear him reflect with other people about his experience, he often is blunt, saying he doesn’t regret going to boarding school because it made him appreciate home. A life lesson was learned indeed. If he doesn’t have any regrets, neither can Pam or me.

For our Carson, who is special needs and nonverbal, each school year brings newness and challenges.

This was arguably our most complex school year ever, and it says a lot because school has always come with a lot of anxiety for our special guy. There were many days when the disability won, and it wasn’t even close. I view just about everything through a sports lens, and there were days when we got slaughtered. The game, or in the case of school, was called early. There were a few days when something was off with our kid, and it was not a good day. Things became so difficult the day had to be cut short.

If I am being honest, and always am in this space for better or worse, we would have never picked the special needs journey if given the choice. You would have to be demented to choose this difficult, emotional and sometimes impossible track, but this tour guide of ours teaches us every day about perseverance and resiliency. The lessons I have learned from him about perspective and empathy the last 13 years serve me well each day.

The fact Carson is adopted has also deepened my faith and made me more comfortable talking about my beliefs. I think God placed him with us to make us better people. There was something spiritually divine at play when it came to our adoption story with Carson. Of all the kids we could have been matched with at any given time, it was our Carson who was chosen for us. I truly find peace in accepting there was more at play in our process of becoming Carson’s parents.

In our current stage of life, autism plus puberty equals tremendous challenges. Some school days it was too much to bear, and we didn’t even make it out of the truck in the school parking lot. I could sense it wasn’t meant to be. I second guess those calls, but it was best in the end. The good news is there were far more successful days than bad, in large part to our partnership with our education team. Every day was met with positivity, despite the day before.

Embracing every day is a new day was all we asked of Carson and our team of caring professionals. School is certainly not about awards for him. He would not want the recognition anyway. The goal is simply to walk into school in a good place and make it through the day with success, albeit with his trusted Pooh teddy bear. Pam and I celebrate the wins and learn from the losses, thanks to our faith and sense of humor.

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.