The Human-Blur that is my son at the moment.
Lest I’ve portrayed myself as an infallible father in some of my blog posts, I need to open up a bit.
Parenting my four year old right now is a pain.
My son is in a near perpetual hyper-annoying state right now, where he is commanding and defiant—bellicose and belligerent. His favourite pastime at the moment is trying to get his way all the time.
I know this is a natural stage for kids. They explore their limits and test your boundaries. Sometimes it’s even funny when he’s looking incredibly stern and proclaiming things like, “No daddy, it’s not your choice!” and “I’m going to count to nineteen!” As I listen to him, I wonder, “Is that really how I sound?”
There are other times, however, when the constant conflict is plain exasperating. Everything—from getting dressed to going to bed—is a battle. Sometimes, I can’t win for losing. The other day he was barking at me to help him put on his socks. After calmly getting him to change his tone and say “please” I sat him on my lap and started putting on his socks.
“No, let me do it!” he snarled.
“Connor, you just asked me to…”
“WAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!” he shouted while throwing his head back.
My inner monologue at moments like these (at least the part I can write without being investigated by social services) go something like this: “What am I doing wrong? I’ve tried everything. I’ve had the patience of Job, and I’ve been short and firm. I’ve given him a long leash, and I’ve shortened it. I’ve been polite, and I’ve laid down the law. I’ve given him choices, and I’ve taken them away. Maybe I’ve just totally screwed him up with a total lack of consistency.”
In short, I beat myself up. I’ve been blessed with a happy, healthy son who has largely been a dream to parent and now he’s the Tasmanian devil on steroids. Surely, it has to be my fault.
Then the other morning, after stand-offs over teeth brushing, face wiping and turning off the TV (all punctuated with great “harrumphs”) I thought we were headed for another conflict over putting on his shoes. Instead, as I was bent over about to tie up his laces, he put his hand on my back and said, “You know daddy, even when I’m grumpy with you, I still love you.”
“Me too,” I said choking back the instant tears. “Always.”
Now maybe my son has just learned that the word “love” will make his dad melt on the spot, but I like to think at moments like that, maybe I’m not doing such a bad job after all.
Don’t forget to cut yourself some slack as a parent from time to time. While it is essential to want to take responsibility and raise a healthy child, sometimes your kids can just be little shits—just like we can. And that’s OK.