Monday, June 15, 2020

How Not To Dad - Episode 19: The Sound and the Fuhrer

 As I navigate the vast, majestic and sometimes troubled waters of dadhood, I almost always look back and think of how amazing it has been to be a part of these two kids' lives. Every day I hope I'm making a positive impact on their development. Every day they surprise me with their intellect and their kindness and their cuteness. There is, however, a dark underbelly. Case in point, yesterday afternoon my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter engaged me in hand-to-hand combat. 

I accepted. 

She was pissed because I had raised my voice at her after she pulled her brother's hair and tried to bite him. First I told her "No," which worked about as well as blowing bubbles into a hurricane. After she tried it again I raised my voice, saying "NO!" again, secretly hoping that would do the trick so that I didn't have to get out of my recliner (If you're thinking "What a lazy sack of  bull squirt," I refer you to the title of my blog.) 

She responded in kind. "NNNO!" She shouted.

"You don't tell me no." I said.

"NNNO!" She answered, and then charged toward me with her hand raised. When she reached my chair she swung, connecting with my forearm.

"What are you hitting me for?" I asked.

Her answer: "NNNO!"

Another slap. 

My automatic reaction was to swat her butt. It was padded with a diaper and wasn't intended to hurt, but I hoped it was hard enough to startle her into realizing she needed to stop. Believe it or not she didn't get the message. A session of swapping licks ensued, until it became apparent that she wasn't going to give up. Finally I raised my voice to eleven, figuring that would surely do the trick, and it pissed her off even more. The ol' booming voice always worked wonders on my siblings and I when we were younger. Apparently I can't muster up the intensity and conviction that my dad always had. Abby fought back by biting my chair (wth?). 

In the end I had to force her to sit against the wall, essentially putting her in the corner or, in terms that are a bit cringey to me though I don't know why, "time-out." The only problem was she didn't want to stay there. I had to stand about six inches from her. If I moved farther away she started scrambling like a running back through a defensive line, which drew me right back to her. At least twice I had to pick her up and, for lack of a better word, wrestle her into a sitting position. Eventually she tired of fighting me and gave in. There were tears. There was screaming. There was rage. Some of that was even from her.

And that, my friends, is why I find myself searching through online articles with titles like "How to Absolutely Love Parenting Your Toddler" or "How to Be a Calm, Cool, and Collected Parent"(Actual interesting reading, if you are so inclined).Two weeks ago I was marveling at how laid back my daughter was, and now I can't quite shake the feeling that I might be raising the next Hitler. Not the racist stuff, mind you, but I guarantee if you Sharpied a square on Abby's upper lip, slicked her hair over to the side, and slid a tiny podium in front of her she would slap the hell out of that thing while shouting her demands at her subjects - namely, my wife and I. 

Moral of the Story:  Take a breath. Count to three. 

(Willy Wonka voice)
"Come with me, 
and you'll be, 
in a woooorld of toddler confrontation.

Keep it calm, grit your teeth,
Or you'll wind up in therapy..."

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