Friday, Sept. 15, 2006 | I come home from work a little after 9 p.m. these days – or should I say these nights. That’s usually after my daughter and son are supposed to be asleep.
My wife usually spends all day with them so I know she’d prefer if they crashed out early but, lately, I’ve been hoping they might be awake some of these days just so I could have some daddy time.
So, a few nights ago, I come home after a hard day at both offices and I see the light on in Alexandra’s room. I’m thinking to myself, “Hooray. Maybe, I’ll get to tell her a story.”
But the light on in the room actually was a sign of a dark day in the Moye household.
I say hello to my wife, hello to my daughter and pick up my son into my arms and, for the first time all day, feel good.
It only lasts a moment.
“Alex is only getting one story tonight,” says my wife to me. Then she turns to Alex. “Tell Daddy why.”
Alex looks sad and perplexed – she gets that from me – and says, “because I was naughty.”
“Tell Daddy what you did.”
“I don’t know.”
“Yes you do.”
“I … I … I jumped on Owen.”
Now, I’m feeling a gut punch. “You jumped on Owen?” Yeesh. I didn’t come home to be a hard ass tonight.
My wife explains that she was taking a shower while Alex was playing and left Owen on the bed. Usually this is perfectly safe. But my wife came out and saw Alex hopping on the bed trying to see how close she could land near Owen.
Turns out, it was too close.
“Why’d you do it, Alex?”
“I don’t know.”
Now I am really disappointed. A few days ago, she said she hated babies and, at one point, she pushed Owen’s head down on his walker. It didn’t hurt him but I’ve since been worried that she’s either going through a phase, or worse, that she is a bad seed.
Okay, I know she isn’t like the kid from “The Omen” but there is no reason to tolerate this behavior. I decide to emphasize the importance of kindness towards others. It’s a tack I’ve taken ever since Lake Murray started having Fish and Game officials watch kids so they don’t chase ducks.
I explain to Alex that Owen loves her. Right on cue, he smiles his Gerber baby grin. I also tell her that it’s not good to make him cry since she’s his big sister and has to be a good influence.
She starts to cry. Obviously, I’m having an impact, so I add a new ingredient to my soufflé of parental authority: “I’m really sad because I had a new story I’ve been wanting to tell you all day and now I can’t.”
Alex cries some more and says, “Now you won’t take me to the Sunny Star?”
For the record: The Sunny Star is how I refer to heaven. One time I told her that’s where my parents – her Grandma Carrie and Grandpa Ken – live and how she can visit them every night when she sleeps. She wanted to know where heaven was and I pointed to the shiniest star in the sky.
I didn’t want to ruin her night completely so I told her, “You can go to the Sunny Star anytime you dream but I know Grandma Carrie and Grandpa Ken won’t be happy to know you were mean to Owen.”
I finally am at a loss on how to continue my Ward Cleaver guilt trip, so I tell Alex it’s time for bed. Usually that means she wants Mommy to sit by her bed until she falls asleep – and I’m rarely invited for such an honor. But tonight, she wants me. I try to remain my serious composure but inside I am thrilled.
I turn out the light and lay on the floor near her bed and hold her hand. It takes about 15 minutes but she finally falls asleep and I creep out of the room and watch the last few minutes of “Two and a Half Men.”
The plot concerns bribing Jon Cryer’s son so that he’ll hang out with his grandma and I realize that maybe I’m getting too much of my parenting technique from that show.
Later that night, my wife and I have a talk and we agree that Alex isn’t a bad child but even the best kids do naughty things. I make a note to myself to ask her to next time schedule one of her outbursts for some time when I have a better day at work.
David Moye is a La Mesa-based writer who wants parents whose kids may be attending nursery school with his daughter to know that her behavior was just a blip and, in reality, she’s really a sweet kid who is well-behaved and doesn’t punch, bite or kick. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org