The kids are at home this week and next, and it is hard. As much as I’d like to believe in it, there are no “great dads” or even good dads. There are moms and dads who try every day to manage their own demons and stresses to be the best parents they can be. My wife often says I get too preachy about being a good parent, and she is somewhat correct. Because I have a work at home job, and can spend a lot of time with my kids, I do have the moral high ground in helping with homework, forcing them to eat daily carrots (their only vegetable) and keeping them at piano practice way longer than they want to. And I don’t have to do all that after 9 hours of working with a boss I can’t stand. Even so, on long holidays, even I can get testy with them, especially my younger boy who everyday is asking for more GoGo dolls or another LEGO because he’s bored (and this 4 days before he’s zooming in on the big Christmas score).
The big challenge for me is to keep reminding myself that a 7 year old isn’t the same as an 11 year old and neither are the same as an adult. Each person, toddler, child, teen, mom and dad are seeing the holidays through their own prism, expectations and rose-colored glasses. I have to kick myself several times a day to not yell, not get impatient, not be empathetic since they are not all Zen Buddhist monks with no worldly cares or wants.
But some days, all you can do it count to ten and try not to be the least mature of the bunch. That’s my personal goal for today, tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday. Then I can go back to trying to be supremely patient and understanding once the stresses or Christmas are over and all that is left is the glow, and the wrapping paper to toss out.
So, how did I do? Mostly, okay. At the end of week one, my seven year old was crying and complaining that everyone yells at him. I guess I was part of that "everyone." In our defense, he doesn't always react when you talk directly to him, so raising one's voice is often the next step. I resolved to be better. Week 2 has gone more smoothly, though the boredom level and post-holiday crash has been hard on everyone. But I haven't done much yelling at least, even when my boy doesn't respond. As much as I love them, and am painfully aware that their childhoods are a blip in time, I'm looking forward to getting back to the usual school routine on Tuesday.