As parents we never want to see our children frightened. But every morning after Will wakes up and every night before he goes to bed, he lives out a nightmare that torments him on a daily basis. And there’s nothing I can do about it.
It starts shortly after he awakens from blissful slumber. Knowing the chaos headed our way, we try to soften the blow by giving him some milk and letting him sleep in our bed for a half hour or so. But eventually it’s time to wake up and start the day. And for Will, that means facing a terrifying proposition that ends with him being enveloped in darkness and temporarily cut off from the rest of the world. He tries his hardest to avoid it—and we’d like nothing more to protect him from it—but it’s an inevitable part of his life that he, and we, will have to simply come to grips with.
After all, he can’t go to school naked.
Yup. Will is PETRIFIED when it comes to getting dressed. Specifically, putting his shirt on. The .000004 seconds the shirt goes over his head and temporarily leaves him in the dark bring on an anxiety attack that makes Woody Allen seem downright calm. Mel Gibson would have an easier time peacefully sitting in at temple during Yom Kippur. Charlie Sheen stands a better chance at embracing sanity and actually being funny than the likelihood of Will angelically standing pat while we pull his shirt over his head in the morning and again after bath time.
No matter how many times we try to show Will how painless the process will be, he still freaks the fuck out.
I stretch the head-hole for him. I try to reason with him. I’ve eliminated all “tight head” shirts from his wardrobe. But it doesn’t matter. I tried to put his Celtics tank-top on and he still pitched a fit. A tank-top people!!
Every morning I have to literally wrestle with him. Arms flailing, legs kicking…sometimes MJ has to pin him down like a mental patient or I need to leg-lock him while I force the shirt over his head. It’s gotten to the point I flat out lie to him now. I put all of his other clothes on first and I hide the shirt. When he’s convinced he’s safe and turns his attention to the TV, that’s when I pounce. I launch my sneak attack with deft dad stealth and wrangle the shirt over his head while holding his arms down with my elbows.
Sure he cries and accuses me of lying. And that’s fair because, well, I did lie. But I’m OK with that. The kid has to wear a shirt and I’m not some hippie parent who’s going to sit around and discuss the benefits and necessity of clothes until he gets dressed of his own free will. Screw that noise.
The way I figure it, he’ll get so sick of me badgering him every day that he’ll eventually just start picking the lesser of two evils and begin to put on his shirt himself just so he won’t have to deal with me. Seriously. I can be pretty obnoxious and persistent. That’s how I wore MJ down and got her to marry me.
Enjoy the video.