Monday, March 6, 2017

Parenthood: Week 194 – Getting Serious

I have a pretty good “teacher face.” You know that look a teacher gives student or a class that will get them stop talking or focus immediately (if you are ever hanging out with a teacher as them to demo their teacher face for you). Over the years, I’ve grown to enjoy having stern talks with kids. No, I don’t enjoy making kids feel guilty or cry, but I do like the mental challenge of figuring out ways to talk to kids to help them understand the consequences of their own negative or careless choices. I only have a finite number of these talks a day in myself and when I’m not sure what to say, these talks can be really stressful. However, when things click, it can be satisfying knowing you’ve helped a student grow.

My “daddy face” is another story. I really don’t like expressing frustration to Ollie or having to be really stern with him. Like my growth as a teacher, I’ll probably get better at it, but right now, it’s really not good times.

Last week, I was putting Ollie to bed. We had done the whole routine, story, and cuddling in bed. I sat in his rocking chair, which Ollie often requests I do while he goes to sleep. However this time, Ollie was not simmering down. He was bouncing on the bed, and throwing his blankets, pillows and stuffed animals off his bed. Calmly without any emotion (which is what is recommended), I placed him back in bed, but he giggled as soon as I let go. Then he slithered off the side of the bed and continued to be silly.

It was getting late. We had been at this for probably forty-five minutes. I had things to do, and it had been a long day for me. I could feeling the frustration build. I had been here before as a teacher, and I knew that I couldn’t loose control, but I decided as I have at times at school to let some of the steam out in a careful and controlled way. I picked up Ollie put him in bed and said quietly but sharply, “YOU are going to sleep right no! Daddy does not think this is funny. He is not happy. Go. To. Sleep.”

Ollie lay there silent, looking at me shocked, not knowing what to do. I tucked his blanket over him, and left the room. I checked five minutes later and he was asleep. I proceeded to hug him, stroke his head gently and tell him as I do every night, “Goodnight Ollie, you are my special little guy, daddy loves you and daddy is very proud of you.”

I felt horrible.

I know that is was good for Ollie to see that there were limits. I also know that it was fine that I said what I said in the way I said it. However, part of me really dislikes having to be that way with my boy and I’m a little sad that this works.

You don’t have to convince me about the importance of being a parent who sets limits and lets their children see the natural consequences of their actions. These consequences are sometimes anger and frustration. I get all of this logically, but in my heart, I’m not there. I only want my words to bring my child joy and I don’t want anything I ever do to make him unhappy even for a moment.

Sometimes the things we do for those we love aren't things that we love to do.  It is exactly our capacity to do these things out of love that make us parents.  Not friends, or mentors, but parents.

Maybe someday, I'll be fine being more stern with Ollie, but if I'm not, that might be such a bad thing after all.        

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