Last night was rough. And I am feeling the effects. My head hurts, I’m a little nauseated, and I have indigestion. And I didn’t have a sip of alcohol.
Nope, I was up for THREE HOURS trying to calm my older daughter, Penelope (we call her Penny) and convince her that her new room is just as safe as her old one.
See, we just moved a little over a month ago, and my wife, Vanessa, and I thought she would be so excited for a new room. She wanted to paint it sparkly pink (just like she wants everything else).
Well, we haven’t gotten that far yet after the move. Sparkly pink walls are still in the planning stages. Just between you and me — Penny is three, so she can’t read yet — I would rather paint the outside of my house pink using only a toothbrush than include sparkles in Penny’s room. I hate glitter.
Kids are great. I love being a father.
But sometimes, especially during long nights like last night, I imagine creative ways to get them to stop screaming at the top of their lungs, of which Penny is especially effective. I will get to our one-year-old, Josephine (a.k.a. JoJo or Boogie) in a later post.
It’s crazy how unreasonably violent a father’s mind can get toward his child after weeks of irregular, oft-interrupted sleep from a toddler who screams loudly enough from upstairs to wake his baby who is sleeping in the master bedroom downstairs.
To illustrate my half-asleep, semi-lucid thought process during these unreasonable hours, here are some descriptive phrases I have thought of during recent episodes:
- Sleeper hold
- Duct tape
- Locking her outside
- Tranquilizer dart
- Really elaborate scavenger hunt
- Escaped zoo animals and an “accidentally” wide open front door with meat trailing to her bed
The scenarios started getting very impractical with increased exhaustion. I’m still not sure how the scavenger hunt would have played out. Like I said, she can’t read yet, so I would have to make pictogram instructions so she knows where to go and what to find. And what if she still had a question? I would have to wake up anyway to explain it to her. And how would she get around town? She can’t drive. Like I said, she’s only three. So, then I would have to call her a cab, or otherwise it would have to be just in the back yard.
Anyway, of course I would never do any of these things, but this kind of thinking just illustrates what a challenge it is to be a parent. Losing sleep sucks, and I get impatient and lose my cool at times. Last night was one of those nights.
But usually it’s the most difficult challenges that are the most rewarding. In that case, now that I’m mostly awake I say, “Bring it.”
It’s also reassuring to know I’m not the only one who loses his cool sometimes and constantly wonders if he is a good father.
I have tried numerous times to explain that she is safe in her new room. There are no monsters. I do the monster check. At one point Vanessa invented Monster Spray (spray bottle filled with water or any other non-toxic liquid). It worked. But that was in our old apartment, and we didn’t move the monster spray with us because we assumed — like idiots — that her new room would distract her from the idea of monsters. Once we established what the bottle of Monster Spray was, we couldn’t change it to another kind of bottle. That kid has a memory like a steel trap. And we just haven’t gotten around to purchasing more of that product. Might be a wise investment though.
I tell Penelope frequently that her mom and I have rules because we love her. I cringe regularly when I see parents try to be their kids’ friends. They have friends their own age. What they need are reliable, loving, fairly consistent — it’s okay to mess up sometimes — role models who love them unconditionally. Yes, even when they are screaming at four in the morning.
Similarly, I hope they love me even when I mess up and lose my cool and even if they don’t particularly like me at the time.
I have learned so much about patience, creativity, love, and so many other qualities in my (relatively) brief journey as a father.
It’s definitely worth the hangovers.