Adventures Of Fatherhood
There’s nothing quite like hearing a curse word come from your 6-year-old child.
Okay, that’s what is called a hook lead in journalism circles and demands an explanation.
While on the beach last weekend, as is usually the case, Beckett, “6-and-a-quarter” by his own estimation, made a friend out in the water. He and the boy hit it off immediately and seemed to be a good fit for each other for several hours. That’s a wonderful thing for parents of little ones on the beach because the kids keep each other entertained.
After a couple hours of playing together, out of nowhere, Beckett squealed on his buddy, indicating his friend had said something inappropriate. With a lot happening around us at that time, we told him not to repeat it and that we would talk about it later.
Later came around the dinner table when Pam remembered we had something to discuss. She asked Beckett to tell her what the boy had said that upset him so much. His nonchalant fashion in telling the story shocked us both and almost caused me to choke on my burger.
Beckett said, “he said what the f@%# and then lied to me and told me it was someone’s name. Now tell me whose name is ‘what the f@%#’. Nobody has the name ‘what the f@%#’ and you know it.”
We were startled by that exchange, and the fact our son had just used the worst curse in existence three times within 10 seconds. Equally disturbing was the umbrage he took with the comment had more to do with the so-called lie than the actual words used by his friend.
I was speechless and waited for Pam to say something. She handled it well and said what every parent is supposed to say in those circumstances about foul language. I actually can’t recall anything specific she said because I was still reeling over how he so casually used the word three times without blinking and how he did it with such calm resolve.
After Beckett walked away and was out of the room, we both started laughing hysterically but not aloud so he wouldn’t hear us.
There are three common phrases used around the pool with our kids — no running, no jumping backwards and keep your mouth closed.
“No running” is the most frequently used because for some reason both our boys have mental blocks when it comes to running around the pool. I can’t recall a day not having to say this at least once and with the summer winding down I’m beginning to think it’s a mind game they are playing. On the positive side, I am quite certain my kids have mastered the five-yard dash, as that’s usually about as much ground as they cover in quick fashion before they hear the “no running” calls.
The “no jumping backwards” thing is targeted solely at Beckett, who is a dare devil despite already having a scar on the bottom of his chin from doing this exact thing two years ago. Rather than simply jumping backwards, he now likes to start with his back to the pool and then do a spin into the pool in the air. The other week I got on him for doing it and not listening. His retort was, “but Daddy I’m not doing a 360, it’s just a 180. See I’m facing away from the edge.”
The attorney-in-waiting then went into a lecture about how it was inconceivable to him how at my age I do not know the difference between a 180 and a 360 and how a 180 is incredibly safe.
Throughout his life, I have learned to not engage him when he goes into one of these rants, which involve all sorts of hand waves, arm gyrations and finger motions. Usually, if I don’t say anything at all, he takes that to mean I am serious. It’s when I take part in a back-and-forth discussion that behaviors are repeated most often.
Finally, the “keep your mouth closed” phrase has to do with Carson, who has been taking swimming lessons once a week this summer.
Carson, 4, loves the water, but he has been struggling with the understanding that he has to hold his breath and that starts with keeping his mouth shut when he goes under water.
During the early part of the summer, he would jump in the pool with his mouth wide open and come up coughing. The same goes for anytime he went for something under water. He was just not getting it.
Therefore, because we exhausted our teaching abilities, we signed him up for private lessons through Ocean Pines. He and his instructor, Ms. Nancy, have been meeting on Saturday mornings through most of the summer for 30-minute sessions.
Progress has been steady and last week he was jumping in the water and diving under for toys. The big difference was he finally learned about holding his breath and the importance of keeping his mouth closed. Although he is definitely not a swimmer yet, that was a big progression.
Over the last week, he has really enjoyed watching my phone video of himself diving under the water and getting toys.
Now if only he didn’t throw my phone behind the entertainment center all would be good.