Saturday, April 2, 2016

I am the worst father ever. Just ask my son.

My son's room is a perpetual mess.  Hey, he's 7, I don't blame him.  My office is a mess too, and I'm 7.29 times older than he is!

But last week, when I could no longer find the covers on his downstairs bunk (he's got a bunkbed) because of the layers of stuff strewn across it, I felt enough was enough. (My office is almost at that point, but not quite) I resolved that we had to clean it up.

The day before the cleaning lady was to come, we spent our pre-sleeping activities (usually spent either with him reading solo or  my reading Harry Potter to him) by  clearing off his bed, putting toys away, throwing away broken toys, shoving legos into boxes-- I'm pretty sure if you are a parent, you know what I mean.  (Or if you have a cleaning lady. ) 

When I was in my youth and didn't have a cleaning lady, I scoffed at the people that cleaned up before their cleaning lady got there.  I didn't understand that if you don't do that, the cleaning lady will attempt to make sense of your chaos, and the carefully cultivated and peculiarly ordered chaos that you are pretending to have a handle on will turn into the kind of real true chaos that is caused by cleaning ladies not caring about your carefully cultivated chaos, and moving it around until is actual chaos. But I digress.

So we are in frenzied activity mode--the kind of frenzied activity that occurs when you wake up late and realize you have to make the bus in 5 minutes, so you are cramming 25 minutes worth of normal activity into that time period. 

When I say we are frenzied, I should say that I am frenzied- pulling everything off of the bed, trying to put it in piles, threatening to throw stuff away.  My son seems perfectly content to bring one book at a time up the stairs of the bunk bed and then lovingly place each book with tender care into its proper place.

Some of the airplanes that were not scrapped
in the purge.
Anyway, during this time period, I found a whole bunch of what I thought were failed attempts at paper airplanes.  They are crumpled up and half folded pieces of white paper, very few with writing on them, and they have been lying on the bed for weeks.  I repeatedly ask, "Are these trash?"  To which he doesn't respond.  "I assume that means yes," I say, mostly for my own benefit, as I throw them in the trash.

Amazingly, we manage to do everything we need to do, to clear off the bed and make it mostly presentable about 5 minutes before bed time.  About 3 hours later, as I am going to bed, I feel a sense of accomplishment, and a small self-loathing for not having had him do 5 minutes everyday before he goes to bed.

The next morning, he gets up in plenty of time, and starts getting dressed for school.  Suddenly I hear a wailing.  He comes into the kitchen, actual tears in his eyes, with a couple of crumpled pieces of former paper airplanes in his hand, saying "You threw away my airplanes. You threw away Frogger!"

I tried to explain, but he would not listen. He's wailing and crying, and saying "I need mom.  You are the worst dad ever!"  I gather him in my arms to comfort him and he starts kicking me.  I told him that we could rebuild them.  He said "I'll NEVER BE ABLE TO RECREATE THEM!  WAAAHHHH!"  

Apparently within all those crumpled pieces of paper, were some experimental airplanes that he had worked on weeks before, and my tossing them away clearly was a capital offense. 

I managed to calm him down, and get him to school, just barely.  By the end of the day, there was still some residual anger, and by the next day he was back to his normal loving self.

I completely understand his anger, but at the same time I see it as completely irrational.  I told him, I don't mind if you get crazy upset about something that is important. But these are not important!  (If I had been the worst father in the world, I probably would have destroyed the rest of his airplanes.  But I resisted that urge.  I am not a monster!)

I'm upset that he kicked me, which should never be the right response to anything, irrational or not.

But I forgive him.  As I said up in the first  paragraph, Hey, he's 7, I don't blame him.

He will learn.  And I will too.

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