“Uh oh,” she said. My husband and I turned our gaze to where she was, then down to the floor where a toy had fallen.
“Don’t worry, baby, I’ll get it,” I said as I made my way across the room.
“Don’t pick it up for her,” my husband said. “Let her get it herself. Eliza, you pick that up! Don’t make your mother do it!”
My daughter looked at me and her lower lip started to move into a pout.
“No, I want to get it,” I said, bending over, picking up the toy and placing it back in front of her.
My husband looked at me incredulously.
“Why did you do that?” he asked.
“Because, for once, I want to be the nice guy,” I responded.
My husband clearly still didn’t understand.
All day long, I’m the one disciplining the children while he is at work. I’m the one ordering them to clean your room! Pick up that wrapper! Get dressed NOW! Find your shoes! Move faster! Why can’t you just do what I ask you to do?!?
I’m the one scolding them for leaving their wet towels on the floor. I’m the one who forces them to eat their vegetables at lunch.
I’m the one getting frustrated when they do things like open a bag of shredded cheese and spill it all over the floor I just swept. It’s mommy who throws her hands in the air and yells “I give up!” when the two of them won’t just SEPARATE and STOP WRESTLING.
Odds are, if the kids are getting in trouble, it’s because I caught them doing something they shouldn’t, like using words they know are wrong or sneaking carrots to the dog under the table.
I have begun to fear that my children will remember me as the parent who disciplines and yells and is always frustrated.
So that morning when my daughter dropped something, I wanted to be the nice guy. I wanted to do something nice for her. Sure, I do nice things for my children all the time, like feeding them, bathing them, etc.
But what about the other acts of kindness? Am I doing those?
It may sound like such a little thing to pick a toy up and place it in my daughter’s hands, but her little, “Fank you, Mommy! Fanks!” makes my day. Typically, I would have rolled my eyes at her and said, “Your legs aren’t broken, you pick up the toy.”
But sometimes, I want to be the nice guy.
I want to be the one who makes them laugh and cuddles with them even though there is work I should be doing. I want to be the one who is able to let go of the small stuff. I want to be the one who gets home from work and just plays with the kids for a few hours.
I want to be the one who laughs off a bag of shredded cheese all over the ground and says, “No use crying over spilled cheese.” I want to be the one who remembers to be patient as my son wanders around the house for 10 minutes looking for the pair of shoes.
It’s so easy for me to go into disciplinarian mode. So when I get a chance to switch gears, I’m going to be the nice guy.
At least this once.