May 29, 2015 by Dadinator
I am singing. I’m on about my third loop of “I See the Moon”, and I realise it is done. I check his eyes and they are closed, he is sprawled in his bed. Cherubic, angelic, peaceful and for the first time today not ignoring me, defying me or screaming at me.
It’s been a day. They happen sometimes. It was a day when the kids were sick – the second day in a row in fact. They hadn’t been anywhere, hadn’t seen anyone and they were at their wits’ end. And because wits’ end can be a lonely place, they thought they’d take their parents with them to check out the sites…. Look there’s Mt Irritability. There’s the Grizly Canyon. There’s Lake Leave me Alone. And there’s the Bay of Four Letter Words. It’s a picturesque place…
Some days I rate my parenting on my ability to be actively engaged with the child. How many times did I ask him how he was feeling? How many times did I listen to him? How deep was our connection? Did I appreciate the beauty of his soul? Did he in fact fart rainbows?
Some days…. well. There are days when the fact that you can count the number of times you raised your voice at them with one hand is a heroic victory against all odds. Days when part of you wanted to drive away. Not to anywhere in particular, but just drive away – alone (dad’s think this too mums, don’t doubt it for a second). Days when you repeat your child’s name over and over in a sing-song, birdy, whistley, Mary-fucking-Poppins voice 25 times while being ignored as they break something. Then you snap and growl at them before you find yourself running into a deep dark corner of your soul and crying on the inside as you are wracked with guilt.
These are the days when you say lots of “We don’t” sentences. “We don’t hit our sister” or “We don’t pull the cat’s tail” or “We don’t pick up knives” or “We don’t throw trains” or “We don’t pour water/flour/sand/mud/rocks/bark on the floor” or “WE #*&$ING DON’T YELL AT DADDY!!!!!”.
On days such as these, the question “Why aren’t you listening?” is asked regularly. In our house we ask “Do you have you listening ears on?” or “Did you hear daddy?” a lot….
They are also the kind of days you hear the word “Fudge” a lot…. Oh, and “Sod”. “Stop it Lad, you’re being a royal little SOD”. Or “That was a SODdy thing to do” or “Stop it you SOD head!”. I am sure you understand….
These are the days when the only thing that gets you through is the one shining glimmering prospect of some adult time after the kids go to bed.
In such days bedtime is not just a routine, it’s not an opportunity for quiet play and bonding, it’s not a restful, romantic, lovey-dovey time. Bedtime is a bungy cord that prevents you from dashing your head against the rocks at the bottom of the bridge. Bedtime is the ceasefire that you hope will hold for a while before the conflict flares up again the next day. Bedtime is the sun rising in a vampire film.
But of course bedtime always comes with a “to be continued” at the end. Like in a trashy horror film. You just know that Freddie, Jason, Michael or Chucky are going to be back for a sequel.
These are the days you are simply trying to survive. Any concept of quality-time goes out the door, and you just roll with the punches. Sometimes literally. Reason, threats, discipline, explanation, redirection, bribes – all of them are useless on these kinds of days. Sure your kid manages to string together 10 even 20 minutes of civil behaviour here and there, but the bulk of the time they are just being draining obnoxious little gremlins.
Don’t worry. We all have them.
They are counterbalanced by the days that you wish would never end. When you burst with love. When every precious second is a grain of gold dust trickling through the hourglass from future to past. When you’re out with your child, when you teach them something, when you play with them. On these days bedtime is a blip on the horizon you don’t want to face. It’s something you’re desperate to stave off. All you want to do is freeze the sun in it’s place in the sky so you can squeeze in an extra half an hour of daylight because gosh-darn-it (thanks Flanders) you are enjoying your children so much.
Tonight my son was running around with a short length of hose putting out fires in the back yard (disclaimer, there were no real fires) as my daughter chased chickens, gave me flowers to put in my hair and ripped out fistfuls of grass for no particular reason. Then the sun set and it had to end, and two days later I wish I was still there.
We have them too….
They are punctuated by the days when you don’t get home early enough and miss out, children are at the table and you’re set to eat. No monsters, fire trucks, space ships, cooking or running around in a circle. Days that leave you feeling ripped off, like the parenting part of you was swallowed whole by the concerns of the world outside. Days that give you guilt. Days where you’ll never know exactly how the kids were because you weren’t there. You were off protecting your sanity or working or running the billion and one errands you have to run…..
I get them, maybe you do too….
Still If every day with kids was the same, even if they were all “good” days, parenting would be easy and horribly horribly boring.
Variety is the spice of life, and sometimes it burns your tongue.