I know you can only count on a yearly call a couple weeks before it’s time to come up for Thanksgiving so we can schedule an airport pickup. I might call once every couple years on your birthdays, or Mother’s Dad and Father’s Day (never both), but you’re always in my thoughts. Especially now that there’s a child in my life.
What I want to know is, how the hell did you do this? How did you raise a child not just once, but three fucking times?
My fingers are shaking so badly I can barely type. It’s nothing major, just a normal child-rearing night gone wrong. He pitches one fit too many, his tone is a little too bossy and demanding, he won’t listen just once more than you can take, so you tell him there will be nothing fun tonight. He will eat, and he will go to bed.
He doesn’t like this. At all. Sure he’s exhausted and could use the early night of rest, but that’s not the point. The point is, he’s not getting his way, and he needs you to know he’s not happy about it. The end is fairly dramatic, a slammed glass of milk splattered everywhere, the child sent to bed without dinner.
The screaming and crying continue, because he’s not happy with this development either.
Now you’re at a crossroads. Did the thousand little ways he tested you all day entirely deflate your patience? Do you have one parenting urge that hasn’t been worn away by the incessant questions, neediness, wheedling, cajoling, bargaining, ignoring, whining, pleading, and crying? It feels like you have nothing left to give; it would be so much easier to scream back.
I’m leaning over the oven, emotionally exhausted. The kitchen and dishes are clean, so I can’t avoid him any longer. His behavior has been and continues to be terrible, and he’s headed for a spanking. I don’t want to deliver one because I never have and I’m not sure I’d know how, but his actions leave little room for anything else.
How did you do this?
I hear Dad’s voice in my head, answering me with a slanted grin. Not very well. Then my mom’s voice. Kent, that doesn’t help him. Yet somehow it does.
I go to Dylan’s bed and tell him he’s headed for a spanking. That I can’t give it tonight because I’m so upset that I might accidentally hurt him, but that if we need to tell him one more time to be quiet and sleep, he will get a spanking first thing in the morning.
When the fit continues because he’s hungry and doesn’t want a spanking, I scoop him into my arms. I hold him close and speak into the soft skin of his neck. I don’t want to hurt your feelings little one, but the world doesn’t revolve around what you want. Forget about dinner. Your behavior gave dinner away tonight. It doesn’t mean we don’t love you. Now. You can choose to go to sleep, or you can choose to get a spanking. It’s up to you. I don’t want to spank you, and you don’t want to get spanked. So pick.
He chose sleep. I chose a big glass of Chateau Ste Michelle dry riesling.
I think we both slept content.