June 18, 2015 by Dadinator
It had taken a few minutes of negotiation, but he was in bed. “Negotiation” is a strong word for it. There was lots of “Daddy said get into bed, Lad. Come on, get into bed”. I can’t remember if there was any particularly witty rebuttal, bargaining or to-and-fro; but I certainly remember The Lad not being in bed. He had eventually climbed in and now he was sitting bolt upright, grinning at me.
I had started the process of asking him to lie down, because asking a 3-year-old to do anything can be a process, especially at meal-times and bed-time. It had been a long day, the details of which I no longer remember. I was nervous because I was going to be on Lass duty again overnight. We set ourselves a goal of night-weaning our little boob-monster who was still feeding intermittently at night-time. “Feeding” is a strong word for it. There was always lots of sucking and cute noises, but I don’t think that (at 20 months) there was much nutritional value to the habit she had developed.
Last night had taken me a while to settle her down without the aid of mammary glands, but I managed. 3 times, and had not gotten much sleep at all. I had then gotten up and run a normal Saturday with pancakes and everything. I was beat.
Inside the clunking cogs of my brain something started to give. Some little pin in there was dangerously close to cracking as I asked for the fourth time “Lie Down Lad!”. He picked up on the exasperation, he’s quite a sensitive soul, and looked at me with a perplexed crinkle of the eyebrows. After due consideration he responded:
“Just Chill, dad”.
Now it was my turn to be shocked. After a quick inhale filled my lungs with fresh oxygen, my mind processed what had just been said. And it changed my brain’s gear.
It was a high-risk strategy from the young man in front of me. Would it send me into apoplexy? It could be taken as a smart-arsed comment to a man who has already exhausted his energy and patience? Would I suddenly feel a surge of guilt at being so short with someone so, well, short and dissolve into a gibbering puddle of regret, sentimentality and emotion?
My mental clutch went on as my brain paused and shifted into a new gear. In that pause I remembered the number of time’s I’d asked him to “just chill” in the face of a threenager emotional tsunami. All those moments when I had looked at my son quixotically and wondered “what is he so worked up about?”. I recalled tantrums, stomping, collapsing to the ground. I recalled how hard it was for him to “just chill”. I recalled that I was supposed to be the older and wiser member of this team…..
My brain fired, the clutch came off, and out of my mouth came a resigned laugh. I shook my head at myself, wondered at what i was so worried about and gave my boy a cuddle, and I apologised, promising him that I would “chill” and that all would be well. I got over my tantrum – or should that be mantrum?
A 3-year-old had diffused the situation. He’d cut the right wire to make sure the bomb didn’t go off, this time. And since then, I’ve felt myself taking a few more measured deep breaths when I can feel myself drowning in my own exasperation. It helps.
Well it helps till the little buggers find the next button of mine to push. Should take them a week. They seem to manage it every time I think I’ve found parenting Zen.
But it’s important to remember that when a situation is getting out of control, sometimes it’s not the kids that are the issue….