I did a few things poorly as a dad today. The monkey didn’t have his afternoon nap, and yet wasn’t making it through the afternoon with any sort of grace and “withitness”. A few weekends ago he missed both Saturday and Sunday (by design) and didn’t seem to miss the naps all that much.
Today he was in a whole other private universe of crazy due to the lack of sleep. So, my patience was drawn pretty thin. On the thousandth time he asked, “why?” today, I may have said something like “Just to inconvenience little boys who are pestering their father.” After the third time he invited me to play with him only to send me away rudely, I may have said in a short and injured tone, “No, I’m done playing for now. You can’t ask someone to play and then send them away like that.”
Yes, he is two years old. Yes, I realize he can’t be reasoned with (especially when tired), and yes I realize I am too old to be petulant about being uninvited for games with foam swords. But it was more than that, it was the overwhelming sense of tiredness that comes from looking forward to another 4 hours with a child that’s not really awake but needs to be taken care of.
When I’m running out of patience, I can usually get some good mileage out of going to the dog park. The dogs get some exercise (which always makes me feel good), and if he’s being silly I can just stand idly by and make sure he’s safe while otherwise semi-ignoring him and just enjoying the fresh air. Being outdoors manages to calm his sillies a bit, too. The monkey didn’t really feel like going to the park, but I bribed him with a simple, “If there are puddles, we can splash in them.” A simple thing, but oh so much joy for a 2-year old! So I had him on-side.
It was no empty promise, either. We strapped on our boots and away we went. And when we got to our first puddle, I knew I was doing something right:
- A nearby couple saw him dashing at the puddle and knew he was going to jump in it. They looked concerned about this.
- As he picked up speed, he started giggling in such a genuinely happy way
- After jumping in the puddle, sure enough the couple covered their eyes as if witnessing a disaster
- When I jumped in right after him, we both just started laughing and singing and having a good ol’ time.
Puddles are for jumping and/or walking in, as long as you’re prepared and as long as you’ll soon be back in dry clothes. As we went from one puddle to the next, he kept calling back to me to come faster. And whenever I arrived, there was just more laughing and splashing. And it never even occurred to him to try sending me away.