When I came home from work yesterday evening, I went into the basement to change. Immediately, I saw something hanging from the ceiling. It was one of those stretchy, sticky hands that kids get in the cheap little vending machines that all kids inevitably want to get something from as they exit a restaurant.
I continued on my way and pretended not to see it.
After convincing my sons that they needed to get their shoes on so I could run a few errands with them, my eldest said, “Hold on a second,” and ran downstairs. After a minute or two, he returned with the same sticky hand I’d just seen on the ceiling and returned it to it’s storage receptacle.
The question of how he managed to reach up to the ceiling and remove the sticky hand burned inside of me. I imagined a Tom & Jerry-esque tower of toys and boxes stacked precariously on top of one another and my son standing on one tip toe as the structure teetered beneath him, plucking the object from the ceiling just before it all collapsed.
Yet, still, I remained silent and acted as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
I’ve realized that choosing the right moments to conduct a full-scale interrogation of your children and the right moments to play dumb and keep your mouth shut is a challenge. It’s one I’d like to think I’m learning more about.
When my boys were toddlers, playing on the jungle gym at the park, I tended to follow them around. I was prepared to catch them when they stepped backward off a ledge and snatch them from the back of their collar before they ran full speed into the pole form the swing set as they looked behind them. As they grew up, my wife helped me break that habit. There was a point where the constant shouting of, “Careful,” and, “Watch where you’re going,” became white noise to my kids and the only thing that was going to make them realize certain behavior was dangerous was a scraped knee or a bump on the head.
Making the right choice at the right time in these situations is an art form. Speak up too often and you may bolster a rebel spirit you’ll come to regret later. Stay silent too often and the lack of support and guidance could be damaging. I’ve come to believe that your status as a cool and understanding parent who still commands respect and values discipline or an overprotective control freak can be established pretty early on.
So, I’m trying to be the laid back dad who lets them slide, but who they know better be listened to when he does decide to speak up. I’m not sure that’s how I come across, but that’s the image I’m going for.
I probably seem more like Ned Flanders, imposing my strict values in a high voiced, non threatening manner. In fact, I ought to stop letting them watch The Simpsons or I see a new nickname on my horizon.
7 hours ago