Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bedtime

Little Big Man was sitting on my lap. It was bedtime and he'd been lotioned up and we'd just finished reading his bedtime story.

The little guy was sad. We'd just had it out earlier because he claimed he wanted cereal for dinner, but when I gave him his bowl, he did more playing than eating. I tolerate a lot of stuff, but I don't tolerate wasting food. It just wasn't allowed in my house growing up, and even today it's like I can see the actual dollars attached to the food being tossed out.

Little Big Man is pouting now, his face is buried in my chest and I can still smell the cereal on his hands. Damn, should have done a better job washing those hands, but I'm tired. It's time for his prayers, but I figure we'd better talk it out.

"What's wrong man, you sad?"

He nods into my chest. I've been trying to break him of this nodding thing and get him to say "Yes sir" every time, but it's a work in progress. Plus, my wife thinks there is something "country" about adding the honorific "sir" and "ma'am" to responses. People these days, I tell you.

"I can't hear you man. Are you sad?"

Another nod, this time while squeezing me tighter.

"Why you sad"

"Ummmm..."

He likes saying "um" now. I didn't teach him that. Just like I didn't teach him to say "tasty" when he likes food, or to say "I love it" when he likes something. I don't know where he's picking this stuff since he's around my wife and I all day. Maybe tv, maybe our passing conversations, but he amazes me all the time with the things he does and says.

"You sad 'cause of Daddy?"

He nods his head.

"Why Daddy made you sad?"

"Um..."

"Daddy was mean to you? That's why you sad?"

"Yes."

"Daddy wasn't trying to be mean, Daddy was trying to teach you something. Daddy has to discipline you so you can grow up right. Daddy has to show you what to do, right?"

Silence.

"Does Daddy love you?"

"No."

"Look at me."

The little boy has amazing eyes. I feel sorry for all you mothers and fathers out there with little girls because I got a feeling my little man is going to break hearts. Expressive eyes, that are so brown it's shocking. He hates to meet my eyes when he's angry, but I force him to anyway. My father taught me that. Look a man in his eyes and he knows you're a man as well.

"Little Big Man, Daddy always loves you, no matter what. But, just 'cause Daddy loves you doesn't mean he's going to let you do what you want. Sometimes Daddy has to be mean."

I kiss him. He giggles, then hugs me.

"You still mad?"

He shakes his head.

"You love Daddy?"

This time I get a nod. It's enough.

"Let's say our prayers."


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8 comments:

Brenda said...

This story made me cry...big tears. Thank you for ending what had been a rough week on such a beautiful note.

P.S. There is nothing wrong with saying "Sir" and "Ma'am". In the years to come those manners will serve your children well as they navigate the opportunities and challenges in the world.

blackgirlinmaine said...

What a sweet story as the Mama of a 4 yo, it brought tears to my eyes. Kids are something else, they may test us but at the end of the day we wouldn't trade em for anything in the world.

Deacon Blue said...

I tell ya, being a parent is such a bittersweet thing. Worth it, but so challenging. Nice scene with the son, Big Man, and thanks for sharing it.

Big Man said...

Yeah, I agree with all the comments about the good and bad of raising children.

The crazy thing is that no matter what you do, you really have no true control over how they turn out. You can work hard trying to instill values, but you can't make them listen. The Bible promises that if you do your part God will do the rest, but the trick is figuring out how much is doing truly doing your part.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Your son is so lucky to have you.

the uppity Negro said...

My mother didn't do the sir and ma'am thing with me because she didn't want me running around saying it like some slave "yassuh" to some of my white teachers in grammar school.

That being said, I'm soooooooo not in favor of making kids finish their food.

I have too many fat younger cousins who's parents harped on them to clean their plates after dropping adult sized portions on their plates--so they eat it and now their part of the young obesity problem of America. Now their parents are mad that they eat a lot.

Seriously, I beg of you, don't overfeed him. If he doesn't want to eat, don't force him. He's a human, he'll know how to come back to eat the food.

T.A.N. Man said...

Good stuff. I have similar experiences with the little missy.

I'm with you on the sir and ma'am and the food finishing. It's never to early to teach you kids discipline--e.g., finishing what you start. And definitely never to early to instill the value and appreciation for a dollar and the hard days work required to bring it home. Sometimes they just want to have their way--sometimes we should let them, and other times we should hold firm. It's the only way they know the hard core issues from the fluff. The hard part, as you said, is figuring out when we've gone too far, and when we've not gone far enough.

Lil Big Man will appreciate these lessons in the years to come. As a survivor of your same upbringing, I know they've served me well.

Imhotep said...

Big Man, ever the dutiful and loving dad.Good move on your part to reclaim the moment.

I raised my kids to use a title when addressing an adult, and their confidence have not been compromised, and their dreams will not be deferred. My kids were raised in L.A., there ain't nothing country about them. Naturally, I prefer (read demand) that youngsters use a title when addressing me.

There is nothing wrong with establishing house rules, and consequences for violations. But the flexibility card, if played well, will yield long term benefits.

Them eyes maybe able to land your son a woman, but throwing money down the drain is the quickest way to lose her.

Raving Black Lunatic