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I’ve had a tough run lately. It started on Sunday night when my boy, Peyton Manning, threw a crucial pick that pretty much sealed the deal for the Saints. I should have realized that the Who’s impotent halftime display was a harbinger of things to come.
Monday and Tuesday proceeded to be such horrendous days at work that the only way they could have gotten any worse would have been if the Who had actually shown up at my office, set up shop, and proceeded to play a perpetual loop of their Super Bowl medley. (By the way, did you hear that Austin Powers called Roger Daltrey after the performance? Apparently, he wanted his outfit back. And speaking of outfits, what was up with that little Blues Brothers number that Pete Townsend was sporting? Was he supposed to be Jake or Elwood?)
At least Tuesday night went fairly well, that is until Lovie and I heard the dreaded sound of cries from the monitor on the kitchen counter long after bedtime. It was A. “Did you catch that?” asked my beautiful wife. ”He’s calling for you.”
I was skeptical to say the least. It’s always Mommy they want, not me. But once my ear was right up to the monitor, I realized that Lovie was right. Our little guy was screaming “Dad-dy!”
So up I went to check on my monster, excited at the sure-to-come, nocturnal, father-son bonding session–almost giddy that A had requested me by name. Upon entering his room, I expected to be hailed as a super-hero, but instead, I wasn’t even acknowledged.
“MOMMY! MOMMY!” screamed A at the top of his lungs while pointing to his blanket which lay on the floor. It had fallen from his crib which meant that the earlier screams weren’t made by a kid longing for his “Dad-dy,” but rather by one who was jonesing for his “blank-ie.” I picked it up and handed it to him, thinking that would be that. Until A threw the blanket back down with a disapproving grunt.
“Mommy!” he demanded, none too pleased that I was the one negotiating the blanket debacle.
What I thought would be a bonding moment with my son had suddenly turned into a bad-behavior moment that rendered a punishable offense. I was obviously wrong earlier. My day had gotten worse. And it had nothing to do with the Who.
“You’re in time out for throwing your blankie,” I said sternly as I exited to the hallway. When I re-entered three minutes later, A’s cries had subsided, as had his insistence for his mommy.
“Poo-poo,” he said in a soft voice while grabbing at his bottom as I lifted him from the ground.
“Buddy, we don’t go poo-poo in our pull-up. We go poo poo in the potty like a big boy. Why didn’t you go poo-poo in the potty earlier? Hmmm?”
He answered with a blank stare before putting his tiny arms around my neck and burying his head in my shoulder. My oldest son and I remained frozen in that embrace for five wonderful minutes. When I finally changed him, I was shocked to find that he hadn’t gone to the bathroom at all.
He had told his first lie.
Children normally lie to get away with something bad, but A’s lie amounted to turning himself in for something he hadn’t even done. Why? So I’d talk about going poo-poo in the potty with him? So I’d change him even though he didn’t need changing?
As I kissed him goodnight on the nose, I stared into eyes that looked back at me with equal amounts of sleep and love until it dawned on me. Maybe, just maybe, during his time out, my little monster realized that he wanted a nocturnal, father-son bonding session. But that thanks to his poor behavior, the only thing he would receive was a post-punishment kiss as I laid him down for the night. Unless he acted fast, that is, and figured out a way to extend our time.
Some people tell little white lies, but A had just told me a timid little brown one. All so he could spend a few minutes resting his head on my shoulder. Lying to someone by saying you have a load of shit in your pants in order to draw that person closer would have never occurred to me. But then again, I don’t get stoked beyond belief every time I get to play with a zipper. Nor do I insist that all my bath towels be equipped with a hood. So who am I to judge?
Besides. It worked.
As I turned the corner on my way down the stairs, I looked out the window and was surprised to see heavy snowfall. I hadn’t realized we were expecting any. I love snow.
I smiled and continued down, suspecting that things were starting to turn around for me.