One afternoon, I was racing around the house doing some chores. My 2.5 year old was playing happily with his train set. My 6 month old was sleeping. As I was pulling the wet laundry from the washing machine, I noticed the house was unusually quiet.
I walked into the kitchen and saw that Callum was stuffing something into the bin. “Callum? What are you doing buddy?” I asked. He turned around and had the GUILTIEST look on his face.
I was instantly NOT happy. I looked into the bin. He had torn two book jackets off my husband’s prized 1960’s Jacques Cousteau books and put them into the bin! Not to mention he probably did some dangerous acrobatic balancing trick to get them off the shelf. AND worse of all, he was trying to cover up what he did!!
I stood there motionless. There were dark clouds and lightning bolts booming over my head. I was horrified. I could not believe that my son could be so sneaky! I didn’t know 2.5 year olds could feel guilty enough to cover up their actions.
I was angry too. If I didn’t catch him doing it, he would have gotten away with it!! I stood fuming.
Callum stood there, looking up at me with his tearing big brown eyes, trembling in my looming shadow. I spoke slowly and carefully, restraining all my emotions and anger – like the calm before the storm.
“Callum. Do you have something to tell mummy?”
“Yes Mummy…… Stay calm….. No angry…… No shout…….. Let’s be happy!” He even said ‘Let’s be Happy’ with a semi-authoritative, hopeful, half-unsure cute grin and half-bottom-lip quiver and a squeaky little bounce in his voice.
I was torn. I completely melted and burst out laughing. Which was probably the WRONG thing to do in situations like this. But I couldn’t help it. It was just so cute. And clever. And genuinely optimistic.
So after a careful step-by-step explanation about all the wrong things that were done, he indeed was very sorry. And he was happy to sit quietly in his room for 5 minutes.
It was all rather adult-like. In fact, suspiciously TOO adult-like if you asked me. Was I just manipulated? Should I discipline him for that too?
Argh. This parenting thing is complicated I tell you.
In the end, he emerged from his room. He apologised. We made up. And then I gave him an extra big cuddle for wanting good things to happen out of bad situations. That sounds about right, right?