It’s Not You; It’s Me. No. It’s Us.

I was at church the other day, doing something churchy most likely, when I heard banging coming from the piano. Just the familiar sounds of someone smashing away on the keys with untrained abandon, causing complete cacophony. Without even registering the thought properly, I yelled out “Edward!” And then, as the banging continued, I realized that my son wasn’t actually¬†at church that day.

Somehow or other I have gotten it into my head that my son is responsible for all mischief in my immediate world. Despite this kinda sorta being the case, a far more terrible thought then crept into my head. When I look at my son, do I just see a potential problem? I spend so much of my time just waiting for the next thing he is going to destroy, or the next sister he is going to smack, or the next dog he is going to leap onto, or the next father’s testicles that he is going to punch at the bus stop, that I wonder if it has become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Does he act out because that is what is expected of him?

So I decided that it wasn’t him after all. It was me all along. If only I could be more fair, more trusting, more accepting of my 4-year-old, then perhaps he would act accordingly. I resolved to be kinder, gentler, more forgiving, slower to anger, and generous with responsibility. This, as it turns out, was a terrible idea. He is four. He acts like a four-year-old. No matter how many times I quietly sat him down to ask him to change his behavior and explain the consequences of breaking a toy (it is gone forever) or hitting someone (it hurts them), he did not become less rowdy or wild. He continued to fling his stuff and his body all over the planet with little to no regard for what might happen next. So it was him after all.

Or maybe it’s just us. Maybe we both need to work on our rapport. I don’t want to have the kind of relationship where I am just constantly scolding him or telling him “no,” or even constantly redirecting him (which is actually the same as saying “no,” and he is now old enough to figure this out). But I also can’t have him picking the dog up by its hind legs for a wheelbarrow race or throwing metal toys at his sister. We need to evolve. Both of us.

I try and take more time for him now. I try to play more and scold less. I try and use the play to teach him about the rules, and why we have them. I don’t know if I am succeeding. Sometimes I feel that I am not the best parent for him. I have wished, at times, that he had gotten another father who was more compatible with him, and who could guide him in the way that he deserved, not because I don’t want to be his father, but because I despair at my failings as one. But then there are the times when he crawls into my lap to hug me for no reason, or the nights when he will only allow stories to be read by me because I am funniest and he loves me. I have not given up hope. I think we will get through life together, and come out the other side still loving each other. It’s just going to take some work from both of us. And since I am technically the adult in this situation, why don’t we start with me?

Posted in Bad Parenting, Church, Edward, Parenting.


  1. Some men just want to watch the world burn! (Kidding!)

    Kids are kids and especially at a young age, they’re still learning how to be good people. My 5-year-old daughter has the same issues with behavior and it’s tough to try to reason with her and not get angry as a knee-jerk reaction. The problem is that, also due to such a young age, you can’t exactly talk sense and logic into them.

    It’s going to take patience and consistency from you but eventually he’ll get it!

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