Throughout the everyday adventures that permeate life with my boys, I have found myself questioning my maturing level.
Thanks to my kids, I am fully aware how incredibly juvenile I can be. I consider this newfound coziness with my immature side to be a perk of having kids.
The only problem is I am constantly trying to keep my inner kid in check around my boys. Sure, there are times when I get to just be the big kid I am deep inside, but there’s an indiscernible line that needs to be acknowledged between being a dad and being a kid, and it’s not always appropriate to err on the later side.
My biggest struggle seems to be laughing when I should not. There are clear times when I should not giggle along with the antics of Beckett, my rambunctious 2-year-old who incessantly cracks me up with his silly behavior.
I oftentimes have to remind myself I am the father in this relationship and not one of my son’s playmates, at least not all of the time. Let’s call it a line of maturity, and my wife is in the unenviable position of keeping me in check and reminding me of my paternal responsibilities on occasion.
A recurring situation of late has been my wife’s feeling that she is being made into the “bad cop” in the family. She has a point and it’s something I acknowledge. Early on in our kids’ lives, she has taken on more of a role as the disciplinarian, and I realize that’s not fair to her.
My self-diagnosed problem is I am too much of an observer at times. Plus, I find his sense of humor and crazy approach to life to be hilarious.
Some of my recent questionable judgments would likely include:
— When Beckett picked up the remote control and hurled it aggressively across the room last weekend, my immediate reaction was, “hmm, what an arm he has,” when it should have probably been, “no, that’s not what we do to our things.”
— As Beckett jammed his finger up my nose the other night, he should have been told that was not appropriate, rather than me faking a sneeze, causing him to giggle his little tail off.
— Rather than being amused when he let out a huge burp at the dinner table a couple nights ago, it would have been better if I had explained to him he needs to at least say excuse me.
— In the bathtub, instead of thinking how great it felt to have him dump water over my head with a toy cup, it would have been better parenting if he was instructed to keep the water inside the tub at all times.
— When he walks around the house with a Tupperware bowl on his head, saying “helmet on,” my initial reaction is to laugh. There’s probably a better way.
— In the park, it’s not okay for me to let him walk up to another kid he does not know and run his hand over his cheek, saying, “nice.”
— Rather than thinking how wonderful he was being sharing a pacifier with his younger brother, I should have made it clear it was wrong of him to try and stick his bink in Carson’s mouth along with the one he already had. I was reminded later that was a missed opportunity to stress the whole germ thing to our boy as well.
— When he threw a piece of cantaloupe into the fish bowl from quite a distance, I should not have said, “wow, nice shot, buddy.”
— There are surely better ways to greet a sudden bout of flatulence than with “good work buddy”.
— There’s a better way to clean the floor than succumbing to his demands to get “dizzy” by spinning him on his bottom around the kitchen floor.
— Wondering how much air he can get while he’s jumping on a chair in the living room is not the best way to combat a household injury.
— I should be able to find a better way to tire him out and to practice his counting skills than encouraging him to see how many times he can sprint from one end of the house to the other and how fast he can do it.
— It’s not teaching him to be gentle with people when I encourage him to stand on my lap and violently drop his bottom on my stomach, while telling him to “let the bottom drop out.”
— Rather than marveling over his dexterity, he should not be allowed to walk around in my flip-flops because he could hurt himself.
— When he tears apart a board book at the binding, it’s wrong of me to marvel over his freakish strength, as he stands in front of me with pages in his hands and a huge smile announcing his accomplishment.
The list could go on and on.
Maybe it’s my age or just a side of immaturity that I quash most of the time, I admit I am often guilty of some errors in judgment with my kids. However, I also like to think my sons are keeping me in touch with a side most adults have to hide more than often than not. I prefer to think that’s a good thing, and that’s probably debatable at certain times.
There are occasions when he is simply rotten (he’s 2 years old, after all) and I have to be stern with him. There’s right and wrong, and he needs to be made aware of that early and often. At least, that’s what I remind myself when that maturity line is breached. If I forget, my wife is sure to let me know.
For the most part, it seems I am an immature father, but I do have my limits. Yesterday morning, Beckett threw his empty cup at the flat-screen television, and I had no problem setting him straight on that front.
As if proving a point, I was quick to show my wife how firm I was when that happened. “See I can be tough,” I said, realizing that was not really proving anything.