I almost would give my left arm if the weather would shift to winter already so Eddie and I could skip our daily battles over wearing shorts to school. If it’s 45 degrees in the morning, you can’t wear shorts. It’s freezing. You. Just. Can’t.
It doesn’t help at all that the TV forecast last night said it would be 70 today – and that Eddie saw the forecast.
This morning, Eddie put on shorts and a t-shirt. I thought having him walk the dog in that, in 40-degree weather, would make him say, “Gee, it’s really cold out! You’re right, Dad. I do need to wear long pants!”
Way to go, Passive-Aggressive Dad!
He comes back inside and doesn’t say a thing. My Lovely Bride chirps, “Eddie, your arms are like ice cubes!” (Well played, sweetheart, and I didn’t even tip her off!)
And then begin about five conversations about wearing pants on cold days, consolidated into one big exchange just for you, dear reader.
“It’s 45 degrees out. You need to wear pants this morning,” I tell him.
“No, I checked again this morning. It’s only going to be in the 60s. See? Wear pants. You’ll be fine.”
His face starts to get red.
“Dad, I need to wear shorts today. For the one-mile race. It’s right after school.”
“No, it’s not until 4 o’clock. Actually the girls go at 4, and the boys at 4:15. You can come home and change.”
“Can I wear shorts under my pants?”
“No. We’re not discussing it.”
The tears start to well up.
“But Dad, I’m going to be the weird kid on the playground! All the other kids are wearing shorts!”
“I don’t care. I care that you’re dressed appropriately for cool weather.”
“But Daaa-aaaddd!!” Cue the waterworks and wailing voice, cracking with despair.
“Eddie, whining and crying and lollygagging and disobeying are not the way to get what you want.”
It reached fever pitch when he dissolved in tears at the breakfast table for this umpteenth episode of Morning Battles With Dad. My Lovely Bride jumped in.
“Look,” she snapped. “I have to work late again tonight. And I had to work late last night. And I only get to see you kids for an hour. I’d rather it not be filled with barking and whining and tears. NOW QUIT IT!”
It’s really not about the weather. It’s about the whining and backtalk and following directions. Blowing your nose, making your bed, wearing pants versus shorts, whatever. When Dad says to do it, you do it! Really, it’s about parental authority.
I’m such a rules guy – except when I think they’re stupid. With Eddie, I just need some sort of guideline, or else we’ll be having this argument when it’s 20 degrees out.
“But Daaa-aad, my bottom half never gets cold. It’s my top half. I’ll wear a jacket.”
“You mean the one you lost at school two days ago? Well, you can wear the one with the broken zipper. But you have to wear pants.”
I know he’s resisting this because – like me with rules and laws I don’t want to obey because I think they’re stupid – he thinks this is stupid. But if that’s what Dad says, then that’s what you have to do! Uh, right?
Driving my 8-year-old to tears at the breakfast table was not part of my plan of how to be a good father. I just don’t know how to find a reasonable compromise without letting my parental authority completely evaporate. First obey, then we’ll discuss. But if you whine and cry and scream, the discussion is over. This problem is not going to go away. What should I do?
Finally it’s 8:32 – past time to get out the door. Eddie runs upstairs to get his Star Wars book to read during free time. The minutes pass. I send Carla out the door to walk with the neighbors we take turns with in the mornings. I run upstairs to find Eddie on the floor in his room, shoes off.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!!!!?????”
I scoop up my 8-year-old and his jacket and his shoes and haul everything down the stairs.
“I had an itch. I needed to scratch it!”
“Alright, but not NOW, Eddie! Your friends are waiting and you’re going to make them all late for school!”
I tell the friends to go ahead, that I’ll walk him later.
And what are the neighbor kids wearing?
What a great way to start the day.