“Dad,” my son said as he looked at me from across the living room while I performed the daily ritual of going through his backpack after school. “I’m a little bit upset with you, Dad. Just a little.”
It was a very calculated tone to his voice. Determined. He’d contemplated things and ruled that whatever happened it was decidedly my responsibility.
“Oh, really?” I replied.
“You forgot to send my library book to school and it was book day.”
Never mind that just that morning we’d had a conversation before school about whether he wanted to put the book in his bag — just in case.
(By the way, it’s a book about a fire truck in question here: I’m Brave by Kate and Jim McMullan. We highly recommend anything by the pair if you love picture books about vehicles with big personalities.)
“The librarian said we could keep it for TWO weeks,” he said.
“OK, if you’re sure,” I said. Apparently that was the moment of it becoming my problem. I should have insisted he take the book with him because we all know that insisting a 5-year-old do something he’s already said no to is the best parental policy around.
So I got a polite talking down about my failures as a father. How that’s OK because the teacher said we could bring the book to school tomorrow if we forgot.
I chose not to interject that “we” actually didn’t forget and that it was he who decided to leave the book at home. I took my medicine and promised to make sure he remembers his library book the next time he has one home.
But I definitely learned my lesson. Never trust a kindergartener to accurately repeat what his teacher said. He can’t tell time let alone the difference between one week and two.
And note to my dad friends out there: If your child says he’s “just a little mad at you,” be thankful. It’s better than the screaming, kicking tantrums of former times. Your kid has mastered anger management, and is displaying maturity in communication skills and articulating cause and effect plus appropriate levels of severity. It just doesn’t feel that way when it’s happening.
A version of this first appeared on Newfangled Dad.