So, lately Noah has been obsessed with being “big and tough”. I don’t know if it was brought on because the girls split, or because he’s started school, or simply because he’s getting to that age where little boys have to be tough. He loves to tell me about the times that he didn’t cry about something. I try to tell him, “it’s okay to cry, buddy. If you’re really sad you can cry.” But he always scrunches his chin to his chest, furrows his brow, and declares that only babies cry.
It’s really fun to listen to him begin to think more abstractly as he tries to cope with everyday life. He hates feeling like common mishaps happen to him just because he’s small, so his new favorite question he asks me is, “did that happen to you when you were a kid, daddy?”
When he accidentally spills his drink, he quickly looks up like I’m going to be angry or disappointed. “It’s okay, buddy. I know it was an accident,” I say. You’re not mad at me? “No, why would I be mad at you? I know you wouldn’t try to do that. Let’s just clean it up”. He then looks at me and says, Did that happen to you when you were a kid, daddy? “All the time. When I was a kid, I spilled my drink almost every day, even when I tried really hard not to. I think you are way better at it than when I was a kid.” Yeah, I’m good at not spilling my drink cause when you were a kid you spilled your drink all the time! And with that, he is perfectly happy as he takes a towel and wipes up his own mess.
This line of simple perplexity fixes his bruised “learning life” ego in many different circumstances. Another favorite is when he injures himself in some way. Dad, when you were a kid, you hit your head on the counter too? “All the time.” When you were a kid, a big dog stepped on your foot and it made you cry just like me? “Oh yeah. It hurt really bad.” When you were a kid, you got a really bad cut and it bleeded? “Yeah, you wanna see where I got cut when I was a kid?
Other times it’s when another kid says something mean and his feelings get hurt. Dad, when you were a kid, another mean kid said you were stupid? “Yeah, but it didn’t hurt my feelings because I knew I was super smart just like you are.” When you were a kid, somebody said you were little and it made you sad? “Oh yeah. But I knew I was a big kid, and so I didn’t believe them.”
I could go on forever. So I will. Other times, it’s his ability to do certain things. Dad, when you were a kid, you put your undies on backwards too? “Oh yeah. Pretty much every day. Sometimes I still do.” When you were a kid you had to wear a pull-up to bed too? “Oh yeah. It’s really, really hard to stay dry when you’re little, and that’s okay.”
Whether it’s the ability to put his shoes on the right feet, or the need to feel like it’s okay that he just spilled half the carton of milk trying to pour it onto his cereal, something about dad having been there once too fills him with much needed confidence. It’s not about whether or not any of it really happened to me when I was a kid. It’s about him feeling like his dad is awesome, he wants to be like his dad, and that it’s okay that he just accidentally knocked over the entire 40 lb bag of dog food.
Single Dad Laughing
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