I was flying solo with the kids last night. Normally, as you know, this is something I enjoy. Last night, however, was something out of a bad sitcom. The kids were extremely tired from having stayed up until 10 the night before, and they were barely able to control themselves. It seemed like every other word out of my mouth was scolding: Stop hitting your brother, no standing on the counter, take that out of your mouth, use an indoor voice, STOP HITTING YOUR BROTHER!
You get the idea. They were traditional parent things, but after a while they really wear you down.
By the time their bedtime rolled around, I was completely exhausted. I helped them get ready for bed, tucked them in, turned out the light, and then we settled into our routine – prayer, story, and lullaby. The prayer went okay. During the story, however, C (the give year old) started imitating me.
I have a lot of fun with the kids – we play, we tease, we laugh – but as far as I’m concerned, mockery is not allowed. Mocking mommy or daddy? No. Absolutely not.
I kept my head, though. I stopped the story, and said very quietly “Okay, you lost the story. Now I don’t want to hear anything more. It’s time to quiet down.”
I waited for the rustling to stop and then I started to sing the lullaby. C immediately started to imitate me again, using a nasally cartoon voice.
I stopped. The little guy laughed. In the dark, he couldn’t see my expression – probably a good thing.
I was angry with a capital A. Had my wife been around, I would have handed the handling of the kids off to her. That’s what we do when one of us gets that mad. In this case, however, that wasn’t an option. I did the best I could to keep my voice level. “If I hear one more sound – one more noise – you are going to spend the night on the bathroom floor. Not in your bed, on the bathroom floor.”
I have no idea where that came from. I think I might have starred in a Charles Dickens novel in a previous life. As soon as I said it, I wondered what the heck I was doing. There was no way I would ever follow through on that threat. All of my anger disappeared in a cloud of guilt.
Silence descended immediately, followed by his voice, very small: ”on our bathroom floor?”
“Hush.” I said gently.
I sang the lullaby as sweetly as I could and then went to each boy individually to whisper “goodnight” and “I love you” and “I’ll see you in the morning.”
Then I left to spend the rest of the night wrestling with how the heck I could undo the lowest moment of my parenting career.