I fully expected attitude from my son when I opened his bedroom door. After all, the night before was rough. It was one of those nights you hear about from friends who are parents, and read about in the thousands of articles available online.
The classic 3-year-old toddler tantrum meltdown.
Nothing I tried worked. It wasn’t the first time it happened. It certainly won’t be the last. On this night, however, it all came to a head for me. My patience was running thin. I lost my cool, yelled at Emory, and sent him straight to bed.
No bedtime story. No song. No brushing teeth. No nothing. I’d had enough.
In the immediate aftermath, I can’t describe how small I felt. For as much as my son was going through it with his meltdown, when he heard the bass in my voice, his eyes lit up. And when I was walking out of his room and he realized there would be no story, there was dejection and sadness all over his face. Not only did he know he’d messed up, but he also was well aware Daddy was upset and had lost it.
I went back in the room a few minutes later to give him a hug and apologize, but the damage for this particular night had been done.
How could I let this little person get to me like this? How could I not practice what I preach to him?
Grace in a child’s unconditional love
Sure, recently things had been rough with work and life and trying to balance all of the above along with a 2 month old. However, even with that stress, I didn’t have a pass to lose my cool in that moment with my son. It happens, though.
Being a dad is rough. There will be times where it gets hard. There will be times when you want to yell like I did. It’s a normal feeling that all parents will experience with their children. This was yet another lesson I learned in this journey through fatherhood.
I also learned that one of the beautiful things about being a dad is how forgiving our kids can be. When I opened Emory’s bedroom door the next morning, it was as if nothing happened. He jumped out of bed with a smile and a big hug. Silly me for thinking that he’d still be dwelling on what happened the night before. It’s a characteristic we adults could learn from.
Kids give us a grace that we don’t often deserve. In a moment of frustration for me, my son gave me some grace that I know wasn’t warranted. As a dad, I’m learning just as much, if not more, from him as I hope he’s learning from me.
During this “threenager” stage where tantrums are common, I’m trying to teach him ways to manage his anger in a healthy way. At this age, I’m well aware that he doesn’t really understand it. I just hope some of the methods will stick with him as he gets older.
Meanwhile, I’m glad he already knows how to give his old man a break when I make a mistake.