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The highs and lows of one parenting day

Ok, parents, I'm sure you can have that one thing that your kids love to look at or play with but it's against your better judgment? I lost a pair of eyeglasses that way when I let my young daughter play with my glasses case in the back seat of the car a long while back. I ended up at the store purchasing a 2nd pair just in case it happens again. She had snapped the metal frame off at the side piece. And I feel this way every time the kids get down their piggy banks to put some money in. They inevitably ask to keep them for a few minutes and I have visions of them smashed all over the carpet.

Yesterday, it was a snow globe that lives on a top shelf (same place as the piggy banks) for safety. In the past, they were only allowed to look at it--look with your eyes!--under adult supervision. But now that they're a little older they've been allowed to wind up the music box inside but with strict ground rules. It stays on the floor. Take turns. Be gentle. Don't pick it up too high or shake it too hard.

I probably should have said something when the slight bickering started. But the next thing I knew, my daughter had picked it up and carried it across the living room towards the front door to hoard it for herself. "My turn." My son chased after and soon they both were grabbing at it until it slipped, shattered, and spilled glittery liquid across the floor.

I've never been so mad in all my life. Not at anything. I did the "dad yell." Screamed at them to go to their rooms. The Mama came out of the other room where she was working and told me to leave the room. She was right. I stormed out the back door and took a walk around the block with no coat despite the cold. And then finally worked up enough calm to return and help her clean up. We mopped and vacuumed and threw away a few things that had gotten wet. I wiped the floor to get the glitter and hopefully avoid glass in our feet for the next few weeks.

It's the first time I've punished them. Really the first time they've been old enough and done something bad enough that it warranted more than a lecture or redirection. My first thought was the rest of the week without tv though that eventually turned into the rest of the day. I was less concerned about the snow globe. I was attached to it, but it's ultimately not important. What did bother me, however, was that not only did they disregard the rules about treating something with respect and care after being explicitly told to do so...but they were fighting about the item. Yes, it was an accident. The behavior that brought the accident was worse than the result, however.

And I told them so. It's the most serious and concentrated I'd ever seen them. I'm sure they learned a lesson judging by the quivering lips and wet faces and mumbled apologies that, for once, seemed sincere. (If you have a preschooler you know that very few apologies are real.) It was a low moment followed by hugs and lots of me telling them that I still love them even if they were badly behaved. Several times later in the day they asked for tv and were reminded that they broke something of mine.

All was better by bedtime though.

We've begun our second "big" book ever and are about 3 chapters into Mary Poppins. Last night was the tea-on-the-ceiling scene with Uncle Albert. For the most part, the kids sat quietly listening. I left the room afterwards with my daughter but was asked to come back in to tuck and say goodnight. When I walked in, my son had the doctor kit out and was giving Paddington Bear a full checkup. I crawled into bed next to him and watched patiently. Then when it was time to crawl under the covers he asked a curious question about why the room was orange light coming in from outside at sunset.

It ended up in a quiet, two-sided, rambling conversation about light bending in the atmosphere, the Earth going around the sun, using X-rays to see inside things, being injected with dyes to see non-hard things under the skin via medical imaging, and a short quiz on how we know things are there even if we can't see them.

In short, it was maybe the best thing I've experienced as a parent. Him calmly figuring out that cutting into people would be a silly way to try to see whether a bone is broken. Then deciding that he can't see the beads going into his train whistle but they must be there because they come out the other side. Then he rolled over, hugged me, and asked me not to go because he'd be lonely.

I had to go make dinner or I'm not sure I could have left.