Letters to Holly

Monday, September 10

Take a Deep Breath. Both of Us.

Since becoming a father (still a weird phrase to type), I've become much more sensitive to depictions of scenes of child abandonment or harm. I just heard a mid-century radio show about a stern space captain remembering how he didn't spend enough time with his son, you know ... the Cat's in the Cradle song 20 years before it was written, and I'm now swimming in vicarious regret.

Like I don't have enough that I've earned. I lose my temper with him, and yesterday was a bad deputy day. I fear we've made him overly reliant on routine, and any deviation from that gets him flustered. We fall too easily into routine, and it trickles down to him. When we veer, he resists. We've gotten him hooked on mealtime viewings of a BBC documentary, and the adults, at least, are getting sick of it. We're hoping to broaden his attention span with Sesame Street and Thomas the Tank Engine. He's good with normal TV material if it includes cars or water. Or ducks. If it has animals, he's very OK with it. He doesn't even realize Mister Lion is eating Baby Goat. We tell him they're playing rough, and please don't do that on the playground at school. Although the idea of the deputy stalking prey before lunch is something I'd pay to see.

Anyway, yesterday, we went walking in the woody areas where Hunger Games was filmed. The foot traffic there has picked up considerably, so much that locals complain about the potential damage done by tourists. That suggests there's a tourist ceiling not considered before as we fleeced them for roadside vittles and sports gear. He didn't handle the change of schedule so well.

We're trying to instill the concept of behaving, the idea that he needs to listen to us steer him away from what he really really really wants right now. It helps to trade off. If we can offer him something else he's previously enjoyed, he sometimes latches onto that, and the crisis is averted. Other times though, he stubbornly refuses everything -- even the very bauble he wanted a second ago -- throwing himself out with the bath water. We try to summon him back from the event horizon into that black hole of anger. Sometimes we can't. And sometimes I get pulled into that gravity well too. It's a learning process for us all.

But he has no problem sharing and welcoming new people to a group. He's good with his age range. That's a relief.

Picture of the Day
Like this guest star on M*A*S*H, I'm considering fake facial hair until my natural masculinity grows back.