Thursday, April 18, 2013

Not such a great night

I have a pair of glasses waiting for me in the south side of town. This is an eye doctor that my mother-in-law absolutely loves, so - without a better option - we've made the 45-minute trek down there this year for new glasses (for me) and contacts (for her). Last night, The Wife checked the website, saw they were open until 9. Since I'm now done for work at 5, and the traffic to the south side is ridiculously bad, The Wife suggested that I come home, eat dinner, sit down for a few minutes, then head off around 6:30 or 7. We'll bring the boys, stop for treats, run around the mall a little bit... it'll be fun!

So, the list of things: the eyedoctor's office closes at 7 every day. The Boy decided he didn't want to go with us and proceeded to throw a screaming fit. "Daddy, I don't love you right now. Maybe I'll love you later when I'm not so mad." He was coerced into the car, but started hitting the baby for no real reason. The Baby was sitting there, watching the scenery go by, when his brother decided to whale on him in the car seat. That's something that I have no patience, sensitivity, or love for: bullying. Considering how often my older brother used to beat the crap out of me for no reason other than his entertainment, and considering how often I was the (usually unsuccessful) target of bullies growing up, I cannot and will not accept a big brother bullying a baby.

I mean, Little Bear can handle himself most of the time. He gives just as good as he gets. The Baby is still too little to participate in normal sibling rivalry.

After a stern talking to and a somewhat forceful reminder about how scary it is when a bigger person pushes you around, The Boy was moved into the back seat by himself, and Little Bear was relocated next to the baby, which suited him fine. At Macy's, The Boy proceeded to remind us how mad he was and how he didn't love us anymore, finally refusing (as we were leaving and upset for wasting the time and evening) to take one step forward. When I held his hand and walked with him, he proceeded to start hitting and kicking and was mostly dragged back to the car. The Wife calmed him down while I put the other boys into the car.

It's interesting how family dynamics shift over the course of time. A couple of years ago, I was the unquestioned good cop. If he was having a rough day, I was always available and ready to provide gentle comfort and correction. So was Grandma - we lived in the same house! Now, not so much - because The Wife and I are frequently alone with the group of boys, it's difficult and occasionally dangerous to leave the other two alone while gently comforting The Boy. Granted, that's okay and good for him, but there is going to be some adjustment for all of us.

I guess it depends on how I want to be viewed: do I want to be viewed by my sons as "Scary Dad?" I'm not sure that that's the image I want my sons to have of me. I think I'd prefer to be the good cop, closer to Santa Claus than to The Spectre, if you know the comics reference. (If not, look it up - basically, justice not tempered by mercy.) I know that I could have handled last night differently, and it bothers me. I get very, very stubborn and tend to lash out instead of reach out.

We got home, and he trashed his room in protest. (The other two were in the tub.) After a little while, when we were snuggling 2 & 3, he called out, "I'm calm now. Can I come out?" We told him yes, when he cleaned his room. Five minutes later: "Is it okay if my room is just mostly clean?" No, it wasn't. He said he was done a few minutes later, and I went in to check. It was clean, so he came in and snuggled himself to sleep.

We are going to change a few things. We're going to severely limit television and iPad/iPhone time to reduce the need to wait until a show is over to do ANYthing. First step? Hid the remotes. They'll find them, eventually, but until then, we've bought some time. Let's see if "restricting" the boys to reading and coloring and building and toys helps to straighten out some of his rage issues.

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