Thursday, August 12, 2010

Trading Places & Daddy Takes Over: Day 2

So many words come to mind when I think about how Day 2 of being the at home parent went. But only one word will suffice as the lead off to this post: TRYING! If there was ever a specific day that I could say my highest and total respect for at home parents was given, it was today. I'm just going to say it: I don't think I could ever be the at home parent (unless absolutely had to) and I really have to give it up for my wife and the incredible job she does as a SAHM. Couldn't ask for a better mommy for my kiddos. Now, to continue, here is the recap of Day 2.

Today started off like most of the days do around here, just a little earlier than expected. Got both kids downstairs and commenced with the diaper changes and the first sippy cup of the day and all that fun stuff. We started listening to some music and rocking out in the only fashion we can when it is Daddy/Kiddo time.

But then something changed. I predicted it would happen based on how early they both got up. The grouchiness level grew to intolerable amounts in a very short amount of time. I scrambled quickly to figure out what to do to entertain the two little munchkins long enough to not have to put them to nap too early. We try to aim naptime around 12:30-1:30 everyday. No earlier, no later.

I proceeded to take them upstairs for some wrestle around on the bed time. Always have a blast with that and is usually a good way to expend some energy before naptime. The kiddos won every match, as only kiddos can. It was soon time for lunch, and back downstairs we went. Eating, the lovely art form of stuffing something in the mouth of a youngin that provides nutrition and the necessary supplements of daily vitamins and minerals, while at the same time a guarantee for at least 5 minutes to hear yourself think. And 5 minutes was all I got before the hysteria set in again.

I decided at that moment, at only 10 after noon, I would break the naptime rules and go ahead and take them up. I got Caleb settled in his bed and watching Toy Story 2 and took Marlee in my room to put her down for a nap on the bed. At first, it seemed, it was a HUGE success. Marlee was out in under 2 minutes, and I didn't hear Caleb bouncing off the walls. Not to start off with anyway.

I came downstairs and tweeted about my success. No sooner had I done that I start hearing the apartment shake like it was coming down on top of me. Caleb, in fact, was not asleep at the time, and nowhere close to it. He was wide awake and soon discovering that I was too. My first two trips back up the stairs were typical when he is fighting naptime and bedtime. A simple "get back in your bed and lay down. Don't get up. I love you!" and back down I went. After doing this twice, Caleb decided it was time to test my nerves and step out of his room. "DADDY! DADDY! DADDY" I start to hear from the top of the stairs. At this point, I feel my hairs start to rise, and my daddy blood starting to boil.

I start up the stairs, and as I do, he darts off into his room and quickly shuts the door behind him. I open the door to find that not only was he up out of his bed, but he has pushed his toy box to the bed and was jumping off of it. (NOTE: not a good idea for a 3yo to participate in). I decided this time that enough was enough. I push the toy box back against the wall and pick him up. I carried him over to the bed and sat down with him. I told him to look at my eyes and very firmly told him "You do NOT move your toy box and jump. You will get hurt. Now lay down in your bed and DO NOT GET UP." Before I could get the next "I love you" out of my mouth, his hand met my face with the force of a rubber band that had been pulled back and snapped against my cheek.

I was in shock! I was sad, I was angry, I was hurt, I was many emotions all tied up. My son has hit me on the leg or arm before, but usually, after a firm talking, his reaction is to bury his head in his hands and cry. Never before has he struck out like that at me. This was a cause for a spanking. Yes, I said I spanked him, but let us be clear on one thing right now: I DO NOT, HAVE NOT, AND WILL NEVER BEAT MY CHILDREN. I do not believe that spanking will lead to serious problems later on. I was spanked as a child, and look at me now! (okay, bad example heheh). How Caleb did not wake his sister up with the resulting tantrum is beyond me. I shut his door, walked back down the stairs, and just sat.

Never since the birth of my children have I cried about them like I did then. Why had he done that? Why didn't I see it coming? Was my talking to him too harsh? Was I a bad dad? Have I failed in some way? So much was running through my head. I got on my TweetDeck and started talking to other dads and other people about what had happened. Even turned to the always trustworthy advice of my mom. I sought out advice and tips on better handling the discipline and just listened to people. Thanks to all whom I talked to. You helped more than you know.

After naptime, I went up to his room, I held him so tight, and told him over and over and over that daddy loved him. And too my joy (and complete surprise) he looked me dead in the eye and said "I sowwie. I love you very much" and I cried again. Marlee cried, I cried, Caleb sat there telling us it was alright. All sadness, anger, hurt, all of it, gone with those simple words.

So today was not the glorious day filled with playtime and junk food eating and running around in our diapers (them, not me). It was not the cuddle on the couch, watch TV and jump on the beds day that I was hoping for. In fact, it was one of the roughest days I have had in a long time. But the ultimate question: Would I do it over again? The ultimate answer: Yes I would. Because when it was all said and done, the three of us on that bed, cuddled up as family, and my son saying it would be alright, I know that no matter the hurt, and no matter the screams and shouts, I am daddy. It is not my job, it is my privilege and honor. And when I go to bed tonight, I know that they love me, and they know I love them. And that, my friends, is my whole reason for it all.

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