"You guys are the meanest, worst parents in the world!"
Thus were the words that sealed my son's fate the other night as he was quickly ushered to bed and forbidden television the next day. The outburst came as the result of our asking him to (gasp! the nerve!) go in his bedroom and study his spelling words. He apparently thought this had breached the every tenuous line of cruel and unusual punishment and opted to let us know his thoughts on the issue.
At the time, I was relatively nonchalant on the outburst and allowed Erin to vent the steam. Yet, as I pondered those words later, I found myself a little sad on the inside. Granted, Erin later found out that Tyler was, to some degree, repeating a sarcastic slogan that yours truly tends to throw around when the kids are in a wonderfully whiny mood but, either way, those words found some purchase deep inside.
Now, I know that my son didn't mean what he said. In fact, I bet that he doesn't even remember what he said at this point. But that doesn't matter. It stung. I don't want to be that guy, the one who pushes his kids away, who is more of the authority figure, looming over their every movement with the threat of retaliation. I want to be the dad that my kids love, whom they respect, and obey thusly.
Yet, as of late, I find my fuse short with the kids. Maybe it's because we haven't really had much time as adults together and are simply at the refueling point. Maybe it's just that it's been a long haul here as of late and we just need some sleep. I don't know but I do know that I don't want to be that guy. For those who look at the cuddly Christmas pictures on cards this year, be forewarned: Despite the window dressing, parenting is HARD WORK!