I yelled at my adorable daughter this morning. This was not a little yell, it was a big one. I straight up went off on her. And I feel like the worst dad ever.
Some of you have seen my daughter on the blog here. She’s adorable. Wait, here’s a photo…
At three years old, she’s quite — shall we say — defiant at times.
You can see it in her eyes when she gets in, what I call, the no-zone.
Let’s get ready for bed…
Have a couple more bites of your dinner…
Put. The knife. Down…
At that point, she’s locked in. EVERYTHING is no.
Wanna go ride a pony?
A magical unicorn through a field of gumballs?
Well, this morning, she slipped into the no-zone again. It all started when she needed to get dressed for school.
It was a standoff. And the nice, relaxed approach wasn’t working. Yes, I tried.
Suddenly, something switched in me and I turned into a damn fire breathing dragon. I picked her up and put her in time out. Briskly.
She walked out seconds later, tears rolling down her cheeks, screaming I don’t WANT to, so I picked her up and put her in time out again. “Get back in your damn room,” at the top of my lungs, I yelled.
In the moment, a higher part of me knew that what I was doing was wrong and totally out of character, but my ego had already dug it’s heels in.
Finally, my wife had to intervene. She shot me that look that says, have you lost your mind?
(Any girl-dads in the house know what I’m talking about?)
Rory eventually regained her composure. Her sparkling blue eyes returned from their puffy redness. I apologized for getting so mad. She said, “That’s okay,” as she kindly put on her clothes and went off with her mom to school, blowing me a kiss as she was whisked away on her wagon.
She seemed fine 15 minutes after it happened. But although it went down 8 hours ago, I still feel horrible and want to vomit.
I made an ass out of myself in front of my wife and kid. All because my ego couldn’t stand the friction of a 3-year-old child’s expected defiance. Usually, I’m able to compose myself in these situations. But today got me. Got me good.
I’m processing this all right now, as I write this. Here’s what I have so far:
Sometimes you gotta let things be messy.
When shit is hitting the fan, sometimes it can’t be cleaned up right away.
There’s sooo much virtue in knowing when to just walk away and let it be messy for a bit. In being cool with running behind and accepting the fact that your day isn’t going to go exactly as planned.
Nothing is worse than acting out of alignment with what you know is right. Rushing in and employing frustration and anger to clean something up while in this state of spiritual misalignment will only result in an even bigger mess. Guaranteed.
Like the great, wise Kenny Rogers said,
Know when to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run.
(Did he have a 3-year old at the time he wrote that? Must have.)
Let it be messy for a second, hour, day, year — whatever.
Come back with a clear head.
Let it be. Time does amazing things.
And if any of you know how to snap a kid out of the ‘no zone’, I’m open to advice.