“Will! Do NOT climb on those chairs!!”
It was the third time I had barked the order at him. We have two chairs at our breakfast bar in the kitchen. One is the regular height of a normal everyday chair, and the other one resembles a bar stool, but with a back on it. A few months ago Will figured out he could climb up on the short one, stand up and make his way onto the coveted bar stool. From there he’s precariously perched on top of the swiveling chair and refuses to sit down, setting up the obvious potential for disaster.
For a while we thought we could simply put the chairs up on top of the breakfast bar, but we found out the hard way he can climb up on the baseboard heater and yank them right off. So we had a choice: Death from a fall from the chair or death resulting from a chair falling on top of him.
It’s good to have options.
We decided to leave the chairs on the ground, and ever since we’ve spent our days nagging Will not to climb/stand on/jump from the chair.
Fast forward to the start of this post and the third time I yelled at him. He grudgingly climbed down from the chair and I went back to doing the dishes before MJ got home. But no more than 30 seconds later I hear a grunt and then some movement, followed by the “THHHWACK!” of a chair hitting the wood floor.
I felt the blood rush to my head in anger. I didn’t have a mirror in front of me but I can only imagine my face was contorted into the kind of grimace with which all angry parents (and the offspring of angry parents) are very familiar.
I peered over the breakfast bar and was prepared to yell and scream at the obstinate little bastard for not listening to me, but then I saw his face. I didn’t have my camera with me, but it resembled this:
He knew he did something wrong. He knew that I knew he did something wrong. And the look on his face was so startling to me because it reminded me of the face I made every single time I got in trouble as a kid. It’s a mixture of fear, apology and feigned innocence.
I know it well. It’s like that one time MJ came home from work early and caught me at the computer during, ummm, let’s call it “private time.”
I knew I should be mad at Will. I knew I should be lecturing him and giving him a timeout and telling him not to climb because it’s dangerous. I knew I should’ve been doing those dad things. But as I fought to hold onto all that anger and force it into a parenting lesson Will would not soon forget, I suddenly felt a very different emotion.
My frown began to crack at the corners of my mouth and then my lips began to twitch. Will sensed it immediately. And just like every other kid on the planet who realizes he somehow has gotten out of trouble, Will smiled at me. And then giggled. Soon I was laughing too. And just like that any chance of disciplining him went right out the window.
Oh well, so it goes. He’ll learn it eventually after the fifth or sixth time he falls onto the wood floor.