My performance as a parent is often lackluster.
I admit this openly, in hopes of shaming myself into becoming a better dad. For every “Daddy Daughter Day“, there are twenty “Daddy can’t take another minute of friggin’ fractions” days. This is not a solid ratio of good-to-bad days. Patience is a virtue… and I am woefully un-virtuous in that department.
However, I am capable of having inspired moments. Today, I thought I was having one such moment. You see, the girls have been fighting more and more with each other as of late. Many people think our girls are so sweet and well behaved, but behind closed doors, they are frequently at each other’s throats. Today was no exception. They were both watching something on my iPad when wifie asked one of them to go upstairs and get the scissors.
“Reagan can do it!!!”
“It’s Riley’s turn!!!” (As if we send them to get the scissors so often that it requires “turns”)
“You’re so lazy, I can’t stand it!!!”
“I always get the dog, you can get the stinkin’ scissors!!!”
Usually this is the point where I BLOW UP. I can’t handle this crap, and I threaten to rain fire and brimstone down upon them until they do what they are supposed to do. Then, they turn to wifie, who sagely nods and says, “See what happens when you fight? You push daddy over the edge…” and the three girls hug and glare at me and form stronger bonds while I wipe the foam from my mouth.
Not today. While the scissor fight escalated, I formulated a plan and sprang into action. My temperament remained cool and I spoke quietly, but firmly.
“Girls, both of you stand up and come and stand in front of me.”
This silenced them far quicker than my usual outbursts.
“This is what is going to happen. You two are going to hold hands and walk upstairs together to get the scissors. When you get them, you will each grab one of the handles, and point the scissors downward, and walk back down. Then, you will sing two songs for mama, and give her the scissors and tell her you are sorry for fussin’.”
(For those unacquainted with the term, fussin’ is a Southern word for fighting. I occasionally let those hillbilly roots show behind closed doors)
“What? That’s terrible! I don’t want to…”
“Stop. Grab hands now and go, or the punishment will be far more severe.”
The girls looked at each other, grabbed hands, and marched up the stairs.
At this point, I was feeling pretty proud of myself. Parenting on the fly – and I was gonna teach them a lesson! Soon, they came back down the stairs, each holding one of the scissor’s grips.
“Ok, now two songs for mama.” (If you’re wondering why I picked two songs, I suppose I was having a Captain VonTrapp moment…)
They sang both songs, but Reagan slurred the second song really fast, and was clearly trying to get done. So, some more clever parenting was necessary.
“OK, Riley, give mama the scissors. Reagan, since you refused to sing the right way, you can sing another song for mama.”
“WHAT?!?!? I DID WHAT…”
“OK, since you are yelling, make it two more songs for mama, and you’ll have to do something else after the songs.”
Tears in her eyes, Reagan sang two more songs. Since I was on this parenting roll, I figured I should keep going. “OK, you also need to say two things you like the most about your sister now, since you were mean to her earlier.”
“She’s funny and she helps me.” Reagan clipped each word.
“Ok, that’s good. Now, since you were mean to mama by not wanting to get the scissors, what are your two favorite things about her?”
“She makes cookies and she loves me.”
Oh man, I was firing on all cylinders. Time for one last question.
“OK, what are the two best things about daddy?”
Finally, Riley chimes in.
“Uh, Daddy, THAT’S a reeeeallly tough question.”
Reagan agreed, “Uh, yeah, I can’t think of anything here.”
“Nothing at all?”
“Nothing. Not a thing,” Reagan ended my hopes.
At this point, Riley starts giggling, “Daddy, what did you expect?”
Reagan, Riley and wifie all start laughing at this, yet again forming a stronger bond while I am left to wonder where I went wrong…
Note to self: when you are on a hot streak of parenting, always quit while you are ahead…