It was a birthday party weekend.
As I stood in the makeshift town watching one son participate in a mock gunfight at Frontier Town and another bang on the door to an ice cream shop that was obviously closed, I couldn’t help but again reflect on how my life has changed.
There it was a Sunday afternoon around 2 and I found myself standing in the middle of Frontier Town’s theme park while a dozen or so kids took part in a mock gunfight about 50 yards away.
With Carson knocking on the ice cream shop door and Beckett engaged in a game of play shooting with his friends, I sneaked a look at my phone to see how the Ravens were faring. It was not good I quickly learned.
As I was trying to get more information as to how we were possibly down two touchdowns in the second quarter, I quickly realized Carson was standing nearby throwing dirt at me with one hand and putting some down his pants with the other. That caused me to drop my phone, sending him into a huge belly laugh.
There was once a time when the Ravens game dictated what I did on Sunday. I scheduled everything around being able to watch the game. I still think that way, but the reality is that never happens anymore. My kids’ social life demands often get in the way, and the fact the Ravens are playing is not even a consideration for alternative plans.
As soon as I saw the party invitation to the Frontier Town gathering a couple weeks ago, I checked to see when the Ravens game was that weekend. It was at the exact same time, as luck would have it, and I immediately began to wonder if the game would be on a television anywhere, although I didn’t hold out much hope of actually being able to follow it.
The party ended shortly before 4 and I tried listening to the game on the radio on the way home. That lasted about two minutes before I heard hysterical calls from the backseat, requesting that the volume be put on “Monsters, Inc.” instead.
We walked in the door at home with about four minutes left in the game and I was excited to see the end. Usually, I can convince my boys to watch bits and pieces of a game, so long as I explain what’s happening. That usually leads to conversations about why it’s called a touchdown, rather than a goal and a home run.
On this particular day, there would be no football game watching, as Carson wanted no part of it and all Beckett wanted to do was go outside and ride his scooter with his street friends.
Twenty-four hours earlier, we had another birthday party. This time the festivities took us to Chuck E. Cheese in Salisbury. That’s always a huge blow to the senses and often leads me turning around in circles trying to keep an eye on the boys. There’s absolutely nothing calming about that place and the fact there are dozens of little guys and gals running around with reckless abandon can lead to rattled nerves.
Unlike at Frontier Town, due to a family reunion elsewhere, it was an even matchup on the family front, as Pam and I were there to corral both kids. Therefore, it was not nearly as challenging.
Things are always a little trickier when the boys have the advantage, and they certainly are well aware when that happens.

A short memory and thick skin are prerequisites for being a parent in my opinion.
That’s the only way to navigate this wild adventure that is parenting without having multiple nervous and emotional breakdowns each week.
I have thick skin because of my day job, but there are times when the kid’s words can hit where it hurts. Beckett is a master at that, although I don’t think he realizes it most of the time.
Beckett can speak with a forked tongue when he doesn’t get what he wants. For some reason, he seems to think if he’s mean that will lead to us giving him what he wants. Oftentimes, when I bring it up later, he refuses to acknowledge that he said it because he’s embarrassed.
If I didn’t have a short memory, I would never turn my back on Carson, thanks to his newfound throwing ability.
If I take him out to the yard to work on throwing the ball around, he will show little interest after a few tosses. However, on the beach one day recently, I was in a beach chair facing the water, and Pam was watching Carson fling beach toys nearby. At some point, he picked up a toy that was full of water and flung it about 15 feet, hitting me squarely in the back of the head. It was quite the throw, she later told me after I regained feeling in my right arm.
I should have known better because this is the same kid who last summer clocked me atop the head with a shovel when I had my back to him facing the ocean. He apparently does not like it when I turn my back to him. I am certainly learning it’s not in my best interest to do that anymore.

It can be scary when you can only hear your child and unable to see what he is doing.
That was the case the other night when I heard Beckett in the kitchen saying, “please, please, please don’t have any brown spots.”
From the other room, I worried what exactly he might be doing. When I got to him, I was relieved.
He was peeling a banana and hoping there would not be any bruises on it. He is adamantly opposed to bruises of any kind and, for some reason, has issues with eating a banana with any sort of “brown spots”.