I remember the Good Old Days–those times when I thought my young son was a well-behaved, gentle child. They weren’t that long ago, only eight weeks in the past. In that time, he’s gone from obedient Child of God to sneaky Spawn of the Devil.
I blame walking.
Ian was late to walk. He used to just sit on the floor, scootching around on his butt to get from one place to another. In that time, he listened to Mommy and Daddy. He was easy to control. He was a Good Boy.
Now that he’s mobile, moving almost everywhere on two stiff legs, his behavior has gone to pot. He bites, hits, kicks, pushes, runs away. He is no longer content to stay in the safety of the living room but insists on roaming near the stairs or in the dangerous kitchen. He screams more, listens less. For these crimes, he does Time Out, sitting, restrained in my arms as I count aloud to twenty.
Parole Board Member #1: They’ve got a name for people like you H.I. That name is called “recidivism.”
Parole Board Member #2: Repeat offender!
Parole Board Member #1: Not a pretty name, is it H.I.?
That’s my boy, all right. He’s been on lockdown so many times… I’m not sure if he’s learning anything but how to count.
All of this regrettable behavior traces back to the day his Nana–a well-meaning soul–helped him take his first steps. Essentially, she’s like the archaeologists at the beginning of The Exorcist, accidentally unleashing evil on the world. He has found Independence and is no longer content with the old ways, his parents’ rules. He wants to be His Own Toddler. What are we to do?
As I was writing that last part, he crawled up on the couch with me and put his head on my chest, hugging me. See, Daddy, I’m not the devil after all… His little hand patted me on the belly. I felt bad about the words I’d just written. “I love you, Ian,” I told him. He got down and scampered off. I closed my eyes, thinking about how happy I was to be a father. And as I lay there in contemplation, he hit me in the face with the plastic toilet bowl from his training potty.