I don’t generally consider myself a patient person but I’ve come to learn patience on a whole new level. If you subscribe to ‘good enough’ parenting then you will know that there are days when there is no patience left, and angry daddy makes an appearance. Afterwards it may not feel like your behavior was ‘good enough’, but it helps to remember that every parent gets pushed a bit too far sometimes.
A couple nights ago I was going through the motions of LM’s bath and bedtime routine. I had just come off three straight LMJ over-nights, I had gone to the gym that morning (surprisingly enough it was still there), and I was dragging. My everything ached. My ‘make it talk’ capacity was on empty. The role of King Triton will be played by tired Dad. Critics called King Triton’s performance that evening “half-assed at best… he didn’t seem like the ruler of anything let alone the oceans… I’ve seen better play acting at seniors dinner theater” etc…
On the other side of this equation was LM. She had just come from an overnight trip with Red to visit good friends. She had spent the previous day playing with lots of kids, stuffed with treats, and receiving mountains of attention, namely from her Mom… this first day back at home had been well, ‘less fun’ in three-nager parlance, and I was getting plenty of tired toddler behavior. Just getting up the stairs to the bath was a tug-of-war. There were tears. LM’s. Mostly. There was repetition. “LM it’s bath time. LM let’s go. LM, time for your bath.” You get the picture.
In the bath there was splashing, drinking bath water, and meltdown fits over washing. A veritable hat trick of poor bath behavior. So LM was acting out and tired. Dad was exhausted sore and tired. The patience well was running on fumes.
We survive the bath and the horror that is tooth brushing (do other children find strawberry toothpaste ‘too spicy’?) and trudge to LM’s room for the last stages of bed time. This involves some play (ie – make it talk daddy), followed by pullups (night diapers) and moisturizers (LM has inherited our pale dry skin), three books, and bed. LM now barters for more play wherever possible. “Can we play more and only read two books?”. Last night she offered to skip her tooth brushing if we could play more, I wasn’t biting on that offer.
If you know LM, you might know that she has trouble with space. Meaning she bumps into things, often. My first injury this evening resulted from LM tumbling onto my shin as she jump/stumbled around the room taking off her bath-robe. Her knee landed on the middle of my shin when she fell mid jump. That hurt. My second injury came when LM was ‘reading’ one of her books in bed. I was sitting next to her bed as she leafed the pages when the book cracked me in the left ear. Oops. That also hurt. Dad was not pleased. My last straw injury occurred when LM kicked me in the head. Yup. That happened. In perpetual barter mode, LM traded a couple minutes of jumping on her bed for 1 less book before ‘good night’. I acquiesced since I was falling asleep next to her bed anyways. I did warn her about 30 seconds prior to being kicked in the head that she should “watch her body” and literally “please don’t kick me in the head”. We all know what happens next. She stumbles. I get kicked in the head. That really hurt.
Now I’m mad. Now I yell. LM cries. LM starts bawling. Now I feel bad. It turns out my head is fine, and LM went to sleep understanding that angry daddy doesn’t appear very often but kicking him in the head is a good way to visit with him. Patience is a virtue.