Look, I’m a die hard Boston sports fan. And even though that means I’m wicked fucking awesome, it also means that I overreact. A lot. To everything. When things are going well I gloat and talk like there will never be another bump in the road. Everything is perfect, and will remain so for all of eternity. But when things go south (which can happen even in the same day on special occasions), I go way too far in the other direction. I curse my team, all the players, question my own existence and wonder how the hell I will ever watch sports again.
My behavior as a parent has not been unlike my sports fan tendencies.
I picked Will up on Wednesday and was concerned to see my daycare provider in tears. She’s been having a lot of personal issues lately so I thought something was wrong in that department. But oh no, it had nothing to do with her. Instead, I learned it was Will causing all of her woes.
In short, apparently he’s a little asshole.
Yeah, yeah. I know. I called my kid an asshole. Get over it. I’m not one of these parents who pretends their offspring can do no wrong. And in this case, it’s true. Because Will hates other kids. Hates them. This goes well beyond Will not sharing (which he doesn’t) or not playing well with others (which he hates). This is about Will not even being able to be in the same room with the other daycare kids. She says they try to engage him in conversation and play with him, but as soon as they get in the same room with him he throws a goddamn fit.
I guess he’s only happy when he’s left to play all by himself. Most kids, when they see a group of other kids all having fun together, immediately run over to play with them and be included. Not Will. He truly doesn’t give a shit.
And because of that, apparently he’s making our daycare provider and all the other kids miserable. She said his behavior has negatively impacted everyone else to the point that he’s unapproachable and the other kids cry at the mere sight of him. And that has led our provider — who loves us and loves Will — to a spot between a rock and a hard place. She wants him to stay and that’s why she’s put up with this for a month now. But she can’t keep him there at the expense of all the other kids’ happiness.
While she was relaying all of this to me, I had conflicting emotions. First of all, I wanted to punish Will. I wanted to ring his neck and punish him for acting like a miserable sociopath. But then my provider started asking me all these questions about how we deal with Will at home. What he plays with, if he watches too much TV, if we spoil him, if we work on sharing, etc. And suddenly I had a whole new range of emotions.
First of all I automatically went on the defensive. I was thinking “My fault?? You think this is my fault? You think I did something? Bullshit. I did nothing wrong. I’m a great parent!!!”
Then, searching for someone else to blame, I thought maybe it has something to do with how every single one of his six grandparents spoils him rotten on a consistent basis. Yeah…that must be it. With the blame off my shoulders, I began to feel better immediately. Until I got home and realized that’s all bullshit, because as parents we accept all the praise for the good things our kids do which means we need to step up and take responsibility for the bad.
Instead of trying to blame other people, I sucked it up and took a long, hard look at how we raise Will. And I realized we need to do more. For starters, there aren’t a lot of other kids around here so he doesn’t get much exposure. But I need to find more time to take him out socially and play with people. Even if he doesn’t like it. Second, just because he doesn’t have any other kids to share with doesn’t mean we can’t practice sharing. So now we make sure we share toys every 30 minutes or so, and he doesn’t get them back until he stops crying and asks to share.
Lastly, I implemented a new program for Will. I call it “Big Boy Points” and basically Will gets a Big Boy Point (BBP) every time he does something positive. Whether that’s sharing, saying please and thank you, helping mom and dad, sitting in his booster seat when he wants milk or sleeping successfully in his big boy bed (sorry, forgot to mention we transitioned to from the crib to a twin mattress), he gets a point. In the future, a point will be a sticker or a star on a whiteboard. And he needs to earn stars in order to play with toys, go play outside, etc. When he gets a certain amount of points, he gets a new Thomas toy.
I’m kind of making it up as I go along, but so far it’s working. He had a better day at daycare today, and he’s starting to share more. But I wish I hadn’t been so delinquent in addressing this and letting it get this far. For the first time I really feel like I’ve failed as a dad. And I know this is probably just a phase and most kids go through it and blah blah blah. I know this. But I don’t care. Because I overreact like an idiot and right now I feel like I’ve been derelict in my dad duties.
I just hope he doesn’t get thrown out of daycare. I’m sure that goes on his permanent record and the he’ll never get into a good facility. With that black cloud following him around I highly doubt any school — even a public one — will take him. He’s going to be a kindergarten dropout who doesn’t even know his ABCs, and while that still qualifies him to work at most fast food restaurants or in government, his options will be severely limited. He and his stuffed monkey will end up living on the streets, and it’ll all be my fault.
Either that or he’ll soon grow out of the Terrible Two phase and everything will be fine. At which point I will surely blog about his unbelievable intelligence level and how he is bound for greatness.
CHECK OUT DAD-BLOGS AND FATHERHOOD FRIDAY, AND READ ABOUT FATHERS WHO ARE ACTUALLY RAISING THEIR KIDS WITH SUCCESS.