Monday, 21 October 2013

Confessions From a Heavy-Hearted Dad

"Why won't you just listen?" No, this is not my mother or father's words, they are mine. Yip, like many of us, I have finally started sounding like my parents.  There seems to be an inevitability about the whole thing, free from choice, predetermined some might argue; sounding like your own parents is just, somehow, unavoidable.

Admittedly, I am feeling somewhat guilty; bordering on rotten in fact.  The opening words of this post seem to be escaping my mouth more and more these day, and I HATE IT!  I feel awful for moaning at my three year old and getting impatient with her, particularly because she actually does follow instructions and is almost always extremely well behaved.  My wife and I are fully aware that we are moaning at her quite a bit so I am consciously trying to counter the moaning with words of love, affection and reassurance that she is, really, a wonderful daughter.  What I don't want to develop though is what we call a double-bind effect in the world of psychology (an emotionally distressing dilemma in communication in which an individual receives two or more conflicting messages in which one message negates the other).  My daughter is not in danger of this, but it does concern me from time to time.  Are we being too harsh or expecting too much from her?  I am so aware of establishing boundaries and wanting her to grow up in a way where she respects these boundaries; is this expecting too much for a three year old?  

Earlier today I was dropping some suits off at the dry-cleaners.  My little girl was rather worried that I was handing my clothes over the counter to the gentleman who ran the shop.  She looked up at me and said "Daddy, aren't you going to be sad giving your clothes away?"  Deeply touched by how concerned she was, I explained that I will be getting them back and that the man was only taking them away to be cleaned.  She looked up at me again and said "daddy I love you" (I love that, I'll never tire from hearing I love you).  I told her that I loved her too.  The man behind the counter responded "only when you are sleeping" as if to finish my sentence for me.  I felt somewhat offended; whilst I know he was only teasing, I felt a little bit like: no, my love is unconditional!...then a couple of hours later I am staring at a face full of tears, explaining how upset I am.  

So here is what happened...

My daughter loves to wash up (let's hope it lasts).  She was washing some of her bath toys in the bathroom basin.  She pulled out the plug and one of her little toys (a bunny) went down the drain.  She came running, distressed, as you can imagine, so I went into the bathroom and looked down the plug hole.  Good news,  I could see the bunny.  "Ok love, don't touch anything, just wait for me to get back".  I walked to the kitchen, opened the cutlery draw and picked a suitable utensil; one obviously not designed for extracting plastic bunnies from drain holes, but it would most certainly do the job.  As I get back to the bathroom, I am reliably informed that there is now a chameleon down the plug hole too.  Yip, that really hacked me off.  The simple instruction was to wait until I got back.  I had a mission and I was set on rescuing that damn bunny.  She was promptly sent to her room (the naughty step doesn't work; she wised up to that around about the time she could first talk) and I got to work on trying to extract plastic animals from a plug hole.  I got the chameleon.  One was now safe and sound...and then...then all hope was lost for the bunny.  The weight of the chameleon, coupled with my prodding meant that (s)he was lost to the abyss which lay down below.  I went to my daughters room to deliver the news.  "See, this is what happens when you don't listen.  It's funny how every time you don't listen, something goes wrong for you."  She was upset enough, but I wanted to really drive the point home.  I felt rotten, but I was also really irritated.  Thanks to the iPhone's latest software update, with the single swipe of an index finger, I had a torch and was looking down the plug hole.  No bunny in sight.  Not even a hint.  I turned the tap on full blast in the hope that I would flush it out on the other end.  I gave yet another instruction.  "I'm going outside to see if I can get bunny from the drain, you stay in your room please".  I braved the rain, wind and (generally) awful weather.  Dad the moaner became dad the hero in a matter of seconds.  There (s)he lay, on the grid, balancing between life and death.  Either I rescue it now with one foal swoop or it'll gone forever.  I managed to retrieve it and delivered the good news to my little girl who was still sitting, crying on her bed.

We are now friends again, but I still feel so rotten for moaning at her so frequently these days.  Is it really necessary to be reprimanding her such a lot?  Is there no other way?

I love her; I hope that will speak louder than the moans. 



  1. Nice post - had to give my 3-yr old a "speech" today as well - wonder how much she understood?!
    p.s. fell swoop. (unless it was a toy horsie :) )

  2. I find myself sounding like my mom at least once a day...


© Making sense of the unknown leap into fatherhood. All rights reserved.
Blogger Designs by pipdig