Guest Post by The Spouse
It was a sippy cup throw down.
We’d been traveling most of the day: long stretches of glistery pavement, subway stations, airports. The Child deserved every bit of tired that she was.
Ten hours later I sit cross-legged on her bedroom floor in defeat, pajama pile in my lap. “Would you please just come to Mommy so I can get you ready for sleep?”
“I Don’t Love You Anymore!” She is a caricature of a toddler. Sweaty hair mashed into face. Stomping both feet defiantly and making a whisking away motion with her hands about a centimeter from my face.
I accidentally sigh out loud. “Do you really mean that, pal?” I say to her, appealing to what I hope is some newly formed, semi-adult sense of compassion.
“Yes, Yes I Do Mean It! Go Away!”
“Okay then,” I shrug, “I guess you’ll have to get dressed and go to bed all by yourself.” This was no reverse psychology I was employing here. I really meant it. As much as she was tired, I was too- and my guilt button seemed to be momentarily numb. I set the clothes down on the unmade bottom bunk and walked out of the room.
Next stop: armageddon. The dramatic and exhausted (yet still manipulative and self-sympathetic) wail that emerged from The Child’s body was no less than a deafening mutant hybrid of Chewbacca and a European police siren.
At that moment I felt the familiar deluge of regret molecules entering my bloodstream. I wanted to laugh out loud and practice self-flagellation at the same time. (Surely if I were German or Russian I’d have an exact word for this phenomenon.)
The Spouse is at the bottom of the stairs coaching me: “Just walk away, don’t let her get to you.” What kind of international incident has Bedtime become at our house? I sit down in the bathroom (where all decent parents do their best thinking).
“Mooooooooooommmmm. I dooooo love you, I dooooo. Come back, come baahaahaahaaaaack.”
I walk back into her room and give her a kiss.
“It’s Daddy’s turn to do bedtime.”