I’ve found it! The end of my tether! It’s been successfully located and resides on a Friday morning at 11:38am.
Friday morning at 11:38am is the point when my extremely cute, extremely sweet, extremely intelligent son adds extremely annoying to his list of personal attributes. Things that immensely cute on a Monday swiftly transition to immensely irritating on a Friday.
No.1 Asking why something is so, then, upon receiving the answer, correcting me. For example:
Son: “Dad, why is there a cat in the back garden?”
Me: “That’s nextdoor’s cat, he’s probably come round looking for food”
Son: “Actually I don’t think so Daddy, I think he’s an alien cat that has been sent here by a pirate to steal our dog”
“Well if you knew the answer, why did you bother asking buddy?!” – muttered internally.
No.2 Asking a question when my wife and I are both there but then correcting who he was talking to. For example:
Son: “Why do the cars have their lights on?”
Me: “Because it’s dark Buddy, and lights help people see”
Son: “Ermm…actually Daddy, I was talking to Mummy”
“screw you Buddy” – muttered internally.
I think I survive fairly well for four and a half days, I don’t ever raise my voice, I try to reward his curiosity by answering all his questions and, when the kids aren’t compliant I find alternative ways of influencing them.
Maybe it’s because Fridays correlate with the 1,250th “Why Daddy?” of the week or the 750th “Yes but…” or “Actually Daddy…”. Thus on Friday mornings, I’m sorry to say, influence closely resembles coercion.
I’m starting to think that the CIA would benefit from hiring a few four year olds as “cruel and unusual treatment” specialists.
On Mondays I can spend the whole day rolling around on the floor and doing arts and crafts. By Friday I lead with suggesting Hide and Seek, then lock myself in the bathroom for 30mins!
When I explained this phenomena to my wife said responded with “Welcome to the Dark Side my friend”. I was finally understanding what full time parenting is like, the light and the dark.
This discovery of my, apparently not limitless, parental patience has given me some insight to our familial dynamic.
I used to drive home on a Friday consciously psyching myself up. The work week was over, I was going home to my kids, I’d burst in through the door singing show tunes and wrestling my son to the floor, only mildly conscious of the semi-glares my wife was giving me. Come on! Perk up, it’s Friday!
This Friday, as my son asked us to read every road sign to him as we drove passed, I sat there content to pretend I’d fallen completely and permanently deaf while my wife took up the mantle of fielding his curiosity. I realised our roles had switched. She now had the injection of stamina from seeing the kids as an addition to her day as opposed to the sole event of her day.
I had immediate sympathy for how she must have felt previously when she was tired and worn down and I was coming home suggesting these great ideas of Days Out on a Saturday. I’m now realising that Saturday’s don’t exist when you are a full time parent. Saturday’s are just another day when the routine must be adhered to and the kids don’t understand the term “lie in”. The only difference is that your spouse may be home and, given you’ve ruled autocratically over two other humans for 5 days, it isn’t always a welcome shift in power dynamic!
I’m so thankful for this opportunity to take Shared Parental Leave and being able to focus entirely on being a father. Everyday it is revealing aspects of my relationship and my children that hadn’t been examined previously. After confessing my thoughts on DGAF Friday to my wife she put her arm around me and said she felt more connected with me than ever. In that moment I knew exactly how she felt. The two of us operating as a more in sync team can only serve to provide an even stronger parental unit for the kids. Who knows? Between us now, my son might get answers to his questions all the way up till Sunday midday!
Footnote: Son, if you are reading this in 20 years time. Please never stop asking me questions. Even at your most frustratingly repetitive you are still the most interesting man I have ever had a conversation with. I doubt that will ever cease to be the case and, by the time you read this, I’m sure I’d give all the riches in the world to spend a full Friday chatting with you.