Today I yelled at my son.
We just bought a new entertainment shelving unit to combine two pieces to reduce clutter in the front room. I had it all disconnected and pulled out and was attempting to re-connect everything into the new unit. I was knee-deep in wires, routers, plugs and power strips. I was quite frustrated and getting angry with myself at my multiple mistakes in re-connecting things. Multiple attempts kept ending with errors, things not booting up properly or connected to the wrong inputs. I typically do not become easily frustrated but this was really boiling me.
TheBoy, typical to his character, was right there buzzing around me happily wanting so much to be involved with what I was doing. He was humming delightfully as he got ever closer to the main power strip; full of blinking lights and the big, lighted power button.
“What you doing?” he asked.
“I’m hooking all these boxes back up so we can listen to music.”
“I can help.” He said cheerily, reaching out for the tempting button.
“Please don’t touch that. It will turn everything off and that won’t make me very happy” I warned. “I need you over there. Let’s see how many dinosaur magnets you have. Can you go count them for me?” He briefly left and came back, ever closer to the power strip. “Buddy, I need you. To go stand. Over there. While I do this.” My voice matching my level of frustration.
“I help.” He said innocently and that’s when it happened. That big lighted power button was too much for him to resist. He pushed my literal and figurative button. My frustration was too much for me to control. I snapped. I firmly grabbed his hand and belted: “What did I tell you?!” very menacingly with a look in my eye I have never shown him. He gave me a look I have never seen before: fear. His expression, one that I will never forget nor want to see again, made my heart sink. I felt a level of horrible unknown to me.
I immediately let go and he recoiled and hid behind the window curtain; pulling it around him tightly. I knelt there, head down collecting myself. It took a good bit of coaxing for him to come out. He eventually came out on his own terms. He was leery, and rightfully so. I opened my arms and invited him in. Hesitantly, he accepted and we hugged. I apologized profusely and promised him he was safe. I have never, in his 2 years of life, seen him afraid of me; and it shook me.
“I’m so, so sorry I yelled and grabbed your hand TB. You just wanted to help daddy, didn’t you?” He shook his head yes. “You saw daddy playing with all these cords and wanted to help. I’m sorry I yelled like I did.” I held him tight and rubbed his back.
With everything still a mess, shut down and unplugged; I asked if he wanted to read his favorite dinosaur book. We reconvened on the couch; him on my lap and a book in hand. Together we reconnected and bonded over dinosaurs, cuddles and hugs. We laughed; we tickled and enjoyed an afternoon at the park in the refreshing air and cleansing nature.
I do blame myself for this incident. Perhaps it was a task I should have worked on with my wife home or given him a small, manageable task adjacent to my current project. Either way, it did happen. Why am I telling you this? To show that even though I’m here, with this blog, we are all working on being a better people. A gentler parent. To meet a situation with a calmness. There will be times when we all falter and slip. A day when our point of patience is surpassed and we vent in ways we regret. Today was such a day.