Sunday, September 19, 2010

Calling Off the Dogs


Picture the scene: it's CVS, you see two oh-so-adorable kids puttering out, and you can't help but smile and maybe even emit an audible "awww!" And then you see their harried father trailing behind them, pushing a stroller, with all sorts of bags and pieces of clothes dangling from his arms, literally barking at said cute kids: "Aaron!" "Jada!" "Hurry up!" "Slow down!"

Perhaps I am such in a rush that I don't have time for cajoling. Maybe I'm predilected against soft nudges. It could be I am fed up with the way we have decided kids ought to be coddled, pampered, and helicoptered around. For whatever reason, my tone with our kids has sharpened of late. Like a drill sergeant, I find myself literally barking orders at them.

Earlier this week, with the rush of Amy's first week on the job and Jada's first days of kindergarten, my constant yapping wore away at sensitive Jada. It was bedtime, I was tired, and she was dragging. Instead of sympathy, I offered her more barking. She crumpled to the ground and said to me, "That hurt my feelings!" Crestfallen, I softened, went over to her, and had a moment with her to assure her we were still OK, to apologize for being too hard on her, and to give her a firm hug.

Our kids probably still need the heavy hand of instruction. And I am impelled to offer it: I'm all for no distinct good cop and bad cop in a mommy and daddy, and Amy does a good job of playing both roles, but we would both agree it's my job to really lay the law down when needed. But, every once in a while, instead of constantly yapping at them, I ought to call off the dogs.
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