I’m hard on my son sometimes.
To the point where I make him angry. Because I want him to be the best person he can be even if that means he has to be upset with me for correcting him.
It’s like a dangerous high-stakes game. Risking his affection in exchange for his good behavior and character development.
I made him cry last night after scolding him for making a mess because he wasn’t following directions.
“You’re never nice to me,” he said.
We talked about that for about 15 minutes. I think he actually understood when I explained how I’m his father first, and his friend, second. And that my job is to help him learn lessons and be the best person he can be. That I must hold him accountable when he doesn’t follow rules.
He’s a good boy.
And I’m often very nice to him. And he knows it, too.
They Grow Fast
Too fast, most parents will tell you.
His loose tooth finally came out Sunday. So the tooth fairy visited for the first time overnight.
He was as surprised as some of my disapproving co-workers to discover $5 under his pillow.
I was brushing my teeth as he counted the single bills on the floor outside the bathroom.
“Dad, I can’t believe I got five dollars for one little tooth!” he said.
“What would you like to do with your money?” I said.
He thought for just a minute.
“I want to put it in my piggy bank,” he said.
“You do? What do you want to save your money for?”
“I want to save it so you can buy me presents for Christmas and my birthday,” he said.
“Buddy, you are so thoughtful. But that’s your money. Mom and dad will use our money to buy you Christmas and birthday presents. This money is for you,” I said.
“Okay. I still want to save it,” he said.
Little boys like to pull their pants down to their ankles when they first learn to potty standing up. It’s not a big deal at home. But it’s not the kind of thing you want them doing in public restrooms or at school.
This morning, he went potty while I was still finishing getting ready for the day. He did so without pulling his pants all the way down.
“Look dad! This is how I potty now!”
“You’re getting so big, buddy. I’m very proud of you,” I said.
We were running ahead of schedule this morning. So we took a few minutes to work on some at-home learning activities for school. He knew what the Mayflower was, the ship our early settlers used to come to America. Well, at least the version of the story they tell American children. I was just impressed he’d heard of the ship and could rattle off some history about it.
He told me all of the months in the calendar year, in the correct order. It was the first time I’d heard him do that.
He stuck a large yellow smiley face sticker to my shirt this morning.
“So you remember to feel happy,” he said. “Every time you see it, I want you to feel happy.”
I haven’t taken it off.
He does this thing where he always wants to race me. Because it’s winter and he hasn’t learned to be careful yet, he slipped on a sheet of ice while sprinting toward the day care family’s house this morning. He fell pretty hard. Cried a little.
“Hey. You’re okay, bud. You’re tough,” I said.
He continued whimpering.
“You remember what we’re going to do after I pick you up after work?” I said.
“Get Christmas lights and marshmallows for hot chocolate,” he said.
And cracked my favorite smile.
“That’s right. Christmas lights and marshmallows. Now you go have a good day at school. I’m so proud of you.”
And off he ran to tackle his day.
This morning my son displayed innocence. Delighted by the wonder of the Tooth Fairy’s overnight visit.
He displayed kindness and generosity. Wanting to contribute to the family Christmas fund.
He displayed wisdom by choosing to save his money rather than spend it.
He displayed maturity. Going potty in a more-thoughtful, more-grownup way. By demonstrating new things he’s learned at school and home.
He displayed resiliency. Falling. Being hurt. And getting up and shaking off the pain.
Finding his smile as he looked forward to the good times that lie ahead.
That’s my little man. My beautiful child.
Growing, growing, growing.
Thank you for being you, son. Every choice led me to you.