I was so frustrated…
My lovely wife had let me sleep in to the luxurious time of 8 o’clock. I had gotten up, prepared coffee for the day, the kids almost ready for the day. My wife gets ready to her day, she is getting treated to a massage. It is going to be me and the kids. I’m not one to shy away from taking care of my kids, I am not so macho that I can’t change a diaper or so inept in the kitchen that I can’t prepare lunch. I will freely admit that my patience is less than my saintly wife, but the specter of just me, taking care of the kids is not something that makes me uneasy.
The kids are all dressed, I am enjoying a cup of joe and I am mulling over what we are going to do over the next couple of hours. Hazel is playing on the piano, practicing her songs for her first, grandparents-only recital. She’s really getting the hang of the few songs she knows. While she is practicing, I am going to get cleaned up for the day, ready to go out with my band of merry children.
But then, I come upstairs.
John, my son, two and a half, has his pants and his underwear around his ankles, standing in the hall. We have been trying really hard to get potty training to stick. We have had some successes, but the misses are, at this point, very messy. The timidity in his voice lets me know that this is going to be somewhere between “Clean up on aisle one” and full scale hazmat emergency. It was a mess, poop everywhere: legs, hands, pants, feet.
I was not happy and I was not in charge of my feelings. I was so frustrated…
I let him now how I felt, which probably isn’t the best coping mechanism. I have a terrible feeling after moments like these. The feelings are so raw and white hot, the frustration, the disappointment, sometimes they come out with me realizing the do. Then the sinking feeling arrives, I understand in those moments the feeling that parents get when they scold a child then offer to take them out for ice cream. I can actually feel it in my gut. And I feel terrible for giving into it.
Needless to say, I needed to strip him down and start hosing home off. The thing about John that makes being upset with him difficult is that he is both emotionally sensitive and incredibly compliant, so he will tear up quickly, but then immediately try to control his emotions while following whatever directions he is given. He is a good listener, in the way that a two year old can be.
We got cleaned up, cleaned up the rest of the mess, from the hands, the floor, the door, and the clothes. We showered off and used soap everywhere we could to have us smelling as fresh as we could.
As we are getting him dressed, he stops me, puts his hands on my shoulders and looks me in the eyes.
“I love you, even when you are angry.”
Any feeling of frustration that I had before disappears instantly. I am flooded with loving warmth and I give him a hug and kiss, vowing to remember what is really important.