Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Joys and Tribulations of Fatherhood

Who's Leading Who?
- Jennifer Fawcett
Why Daddy? Two words often accompanied by a sniffle or a whimper, the kind most four year old boys make I am sure. This is more times than not accompanied with a few shed tears and perhaps a good old fashion tantrum. Where does it all come from I wonder? Even when I am perfectly calm and collective, my oldest son seems to jump from one extreme to the next. From perfectly happy and calm to sudden gushes of tears and screaming, all because of two magic words.... "It’s bedtime." In fairness, he doesn't cry every single time and we have a wonderful routine with him but that routine came at a cost... two years of unfathomable crying that would in the process kill valuable (and few) brain cells as Jennifer or I attempted to calm him. Between the ages of one and two we often found ourselves shattered after putting our pup to sleep. We had done everything that Mary Poppins had suggested. And she was right, spoons full of sugar may help the medicine go down but she neglected to mention that sugar will also give your child spider like abilities as they climb up and down the walls and ceilings.

Since moving to Canada our puppy has digressed somewhat. Partly out of jealousy I am sure over his baby brother who is still under one (for just one more day, sniff) and who receives the bounty's worth of cuddles at bed time... but there is something more. Nothing sinister of course, although sometimes I wonder... but the truth is our little boy is at that egocentric age where everything is about him. We have a set routine with him that is mostly flawless. He goes to bed every day at the same time (give or take the odd occurrence or if we are at his grandparents house, etc...) and receives a bed time story, something he has coveted over the years and loves dearly. Yet, we often later hear the pitter patter of four year old feet or the very familiar sound of a monkey jumping on the bed! Hearing me coming our son desperately scampers back into bed hoping to avoid being caught. Laughing nervously he stares up at us knowing his naughtiness but seemingly unable to help himself.

Should we, as parents join in on the fun too and join him in a game of scampering around the bedroom or jumping on his bed? Should we follow his grandparent’s example and let him eat, drink and play with everything in sight? Sometimes I don’t want to be his parent; I want to be his four year old friend. I want to play with him in the same way he desperately seeks others to join in and have fun. Sometimes I give in, albeit rarely to be honest, but still when I do it seems to create a false sense of hope in him. I can imagine in his mind he is winning the war when in fact, it was just a battle. Finding that combination between good parenting and saving one’s own sanity when it comes to child rearing has been nothing if not difficult these last four years. I suppose my only solace is that one day he will have to be looking out for me, changing my diapers, yelling at me to stop jumping on my bed (in fear of breaking my hip of course), begging me to just talk to him instead of cry… though truthfully, I hope this day doesn’t come any time soon. Despite everything, he will always be my little boy.

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