The Adventures Of Fatherhood – December 15, 2023

It’s interesting how we change through our lives.

I think individual experiences have a way of molding us as we make our way through life. My perspective on everything today is much different than it was 10 years ago, for example, five years ago or maybe even two years ago. Some of these changes can be chalked up simply to personal maturation driven by timing, but I credit my kids, Beckett, 15, and Carson, 14, for most of my different viewpoints on things today.

Raising kids changes you. It’s inevitable. Through the journey, there are numerous ups and downs as well as scares and delights, sometimes all in one day. There’s much to celebrate but also to fret. Throughout it all, I mentally serve up constant reminders to enjoy the current day because kids grow up so fast.

Over the course of the last couple months, I have found myself marveling over how different life is with my kids. Dare I saw things seem to be leveling off for the most part, as they are maturing and placing value on many of the same things we do. As they have changed, I feel I have as well. Things that used to drive me crazy no longer do in most cases. Don’t get me wrong, I still get hot and bothered over certain things, such as snack wrappers beside the trash can and empty water bottles being lined up along a wall outside a bedroom.

While those ridiculous teen antics will always get under my skin, I have noticed a general change in my approach as my kids have matured. It seems I have matured some as well along with them. Some other thoughts on this point:

  • There was a time when I really cared how my kids did in school, especially Beckett. While I still monitor his grades weekly, I’m far less absorbed by it. There was a time when I would check his grades through the school’s online system daily.

At this point in his school life (10th grade), Beckett knows how to handle his schoolwork. He seems to have figured out the juggle required to succeed as a student while playing three sports. What’s most encouraging is seeing the pride in himself when he succeeds.

While the special needs of Carson, 14, are different, Beckett has become increasingly independent. I have enjoyed watching his evolution. He now wants to do things on his own, especially with school (not so much with laundry and cleaning his room, interestingly enough). When he does well on something in school, the immense pride he feels is obvious. It has boosted his confidence. It has been great to watch evolve.

An example would be recently I was reviewing his grades online and saw he had a test in a certain subject that he never mentioned to his mom or me. When I asked Pam if she knew anything about it, she said did not. I think she was a little irritated initially until I told her he crushed it. I think we both came to the same conclusion — this is how it should be.

  • Today, I don’t like to hover over my kids. Both my boys know their parents are always there for them. They know how important they are to us. The reality now is they don’t need us as much for everything.

There’s still plenty of parenting and in Beckett’s case a lot of “P-Ubering” – a term I am stealing from a friend about parent driving to and from places. Some of our best conversations come when I am running here or there for this or that. These are short 10-minute chats and I follow his lead on what he wants to talk about. I place more value today on these sorts of casual conversations as his father than I do the small slips in judgment that inevitably come along the way.

  • It was always a problem for me that Beckett prefers to hang out in his room than with us. This is now the case with Carson as well. I am fine with it now.

It occurs to me this is their space to call their own. I was like this when I was their age as well. Most of the time the doors to their room aren’t even closed. The boys are just in there relaxing and decompressing.

Sure, as their parents, we wish they would socialize more with us. The fact is there is plenty of communication. They are just wrapped up in their own stuff with school as well as social lives in Beckett’s case and they need alone time. I can respect that.

Last Sunday afternoon, however, was one of those times when Beckett was in and out of his room throughout the Ravens game. At one point, he must have gotten wind of the close nature of the game with just a little bit of time left. He came flying downstairs to watch the last 90 seconds of the game. He had so much to say I could not even hear the commentators. I couldn’t even follow what he was saying at one point because he was talking so fast while I was into the game. Once the game ended, I was perfectly fine with him going back upstairs.

  • Late-night eating after barely having anything for dinner has always been a pet peeve. It still annoys me, but today I realize in the big picture it’s not a big deal. Does it really matter if Beckett eats a piece of chicken at dinner and then three hours later before bed inhales three Cliff bars? It’s truly not a big deal, but I can’t say the same for when I find the wrappers and crumbs all over the place. I see that as forever bothering me.

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.