March 8, 2017


Theodore is a kid I babysit for.  My older kids frequently shake their head when they observe this kid and groan, 'He's gonna get beat up . . .  regularly, when he's older.'  

A bit of background on Theodore:  he's a sweet, petite blond boy with ears that are overly proportioned to his head.  Theodore is three.  His parents are well intentioned people who speak to him in unnatural, sickeningly sweet voices.  I suspect their mission in life is to prevent him from ever being slightly unhappy.  So realistic.  They rarely utilize the word 'no.'  Instead they explain situations - ultimately talking him to death.  Puke.

Theodore is a very good boy.  He's wound tighter than a first born's car seat buckles on the drive home from the hospital.  His self-policing tendencies are mind-blowing.  He MUST tell me (thru tears) that he pushed his little brother down.  Leaving out his motivation for doing so wouldn't even cross his self-conscious mind.  

When Theodore started getting dropped off in late August of 2015 when he was 22 months old, he eagerly raced into our house.  Eventually he went through a little phase where he clung to his mom and begged for one more hug, one more kiss, etc.  Mom obliged each time.  She failed to grasp the advantages of the quick-drop approach.

During Mom's maternity leave a few months later, Dad started to drop off Theodore once a week to give Mom a break.  Imagine the energy required to speak in a fake, 'put-on' tone all day?  More exhausting than caring for a newborn.  Theodore, over the hump of turning on the tears at drop-off, raced into the family room and looked for his favorite toys.  

Dad lingered.  He bid the kid good-bye multiple times.  'OK, I'm really going to go now.  Did you want another hug?  Are you going to have a good day?  What are you going to play today?  OK, bye Theodore.'  Honestly, despite my love of embellishing to improve a story - this is NO EXAGGERATION.

The transparency of Dad's neediness was even noted by my junior high kids.  Dear old Dad didn't really want to leave with Theodore instantly happy to engage in his surroundings.  Undoubtedly, he had heard about the 'don't go Mommy' moments.  He longed for a bit of that ego-building, emotionally-gratifying 'I-like-Daddy-just-as-much-as-Mommy' satisfaction.  He longed to see his toddler breakdown and beg for more Dad time.  Nauseating.

The silver lining here is that my kids have witnessed how not to parent . . . and for once the example isn't from one of my mess-ups.  

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