Learned something interesting the other day. There are numerous opposites that come into play when you’re a stay-at-home dad to an increasingly stubborn and energetic two-year-old boy. Being a standard (well, not quite standard but rather, extraordinarily talented and bright and witty) two-year-old boy, he likes to test me from time to time. I can see his mischievous grin as he deliberately disobeys my umpteenth order to NOT TOUCH THE DRAWERS CONTAINING THE SPICES – OR ELSE THERE WILL BE A TIME-OUT!
And do you want a time-out? I ask him. He’ll of course say “No!”, back up a little, and then after a minute or so, move towards the spice drawer again.
It’s at this point where I feel my blood start to simmer. It’s not at boiling point, but I’m hardly the model of Buddhist monk chilling, especially if this has been happening several times in the span of 20 minutes when I’m trying to follow Bobby Flay’s recipe for flounder fish and wanting it to be a good meal.
So what happens? I realize that it’s both very, very hard and very, very easy to maintain my composure. It’s also very, very hard and very, very easy to lose my temper and just take him to his time-out corner and yell in his face
Yell in his face? Yes, I admit it. I’ve done it, several times. Often it seems to have the desired effect because nothing up to that point seems to have worked. So bang – “DO NOT TOUCH THE SPICE DRAWER! GET OFF THE TABLE! NOW! DO NOT HIT PEOPLE IN THIS HOUSE! BLYAAARAAARGGGGGH!” And finally he will calm down, and become a cute little angel and attempt to hug me in an apologetic gesture.
And again, I find it very, very easy and very, very hard to calm down. Such is the challenge of parenthood. These opposites. It’s so easy to be a parent because it’s in the instincts, but it’s also so fucking hard. It’s so easy to be cool, calm and collected because how could I in my right mind ever lose my temper at a fantastically awesome two-year-old boy – let alone my son? But it’s also so easy to just lose my temper and explode, because he knows how to push my buttons and likes to get a rise out of me. Is it on purpose? Sure, probably some of it is. Is it just because this is the way he is and it annoys the heck out of me? Yes, of course. Is it because he’s simply two years old and likes to explore, learn and do all these things that he shouldn’t do? Yes, absolutely. It’s a combination of all these things.
Hard? Easy? Yes, and everything in between. It’s truly a clash of opposites. The eternal opposites linger on in the life of being a parent.