On Saturday, N came down with a fever. It was a pretty substantial one, breaking the 103 mark at one point.

When you have two young kids and one gets that sick, the parents have to split up. The only hope of keeping his brother from getting sick is to keep them completely separated. In this case, that meant that C spent Sunday out and around with his mom, while I spent the day at home, caring for his little brother.

I didn’t mind. I’ve been extremely tired myself lately, so a low-key day of bonding with the little guy actually sounded pretty appealing. It ended up being a good day. We read stories, did puzzles, watched a little television, and really had an enjoyable time. I managed to stay on top of the hydration problem with popsicles and fruit juice, and even coaxed him into eating some crackers. By the end of the day, his fever was down, and when he woke up this morning, it was completely gone.

He’s not one hundred percent, of course, but I was generally feeling pretty good about how I handled things. 

Then things changed.

I came down from the office this morning when I heard them all starting to wake up. I found them all at the table in the kitchen and said good morning. N looked over at me and said “You hit me daddy. No hitting!”

That stopped me in my tracks, to say the least. His mother and brother both looked at me, shocked.

Ignoring them (or trying to), I knelt down on one knee and held my arms out for a hug. Keeping my voice as light as a I could, I said “What? I didn’t hit you.”

He toddled over to give me a hug. “No, no, no! Yesterday. You hit me yesterday.”

“No I didn’t. I didn’t hit you yesterday. Daddy doesn’t hit!”

He leaned back out of the hug. “No, no, no, no, no. Long time ago. You hit long time ago.”

He uses that “no, no, no, no, no” to interrupt other people so that he can speak. It’s effective, if a bit annoying. I repeated my denial. “What are you talking about? I don’t hit you. I’ve never hit you!”

C, at this point, decided to believe me (thank goodness). He walked over, leaned on my shoulder, and faced his brother. “Noooo, daddy doesn’t hit.”

N didn’t like this. “No, no, no, no , no! Daddy hit!”

Now that he’d taken up my defense, C was sticking to it. He used his little brother’s own tactic against him. “No, no, no, no, no! He doesn’t hit.”

At this, N started to cry. His face clouded up and he turned away from me to go into his momma’s arms, wailing ”He said no to me!”

Normally, this is the point at which I leap to his defense and talk to his older brother. Not this time, though. He was on his own this time. Momma held him close, but also gave him a lecture about how it’s okay for other people to say “no.”

I have no idea where he got the whole idea of me hitting from. Maybe it was a fever dream or a blurred memory of something that happened on TV. It was quite an eye-opener, though. Not only did it wipe away all those warm fuzzies from yesterday, but it really made me aware of how much power kids have.

I mean, if he had said that about a teacher, I would have believed him without giving the teacher any consideration at all. I’m guessing I’m not alone in that position.

That’s a scary thought.

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