The other day, Lucas was having a major meltdown. It turns out that he had fallen while trying out his new roller skates. Yes, he was frustrated, but more so, he was tired. My 5-year-old nephew was spending the day with us, and with the two kids playing together so well, my mom had been lax about putting Lucas down for a nap. Clearly, he wasn't functioning well without one.
In our family, we learned a while back never to use the dreaded "n" word, so when I saw that Lucas was not recovering from his spill, I told him it was "time to lie down." Even so, he knew what that meant; Lucas's screams escalated to a furious pitch and I think the entire neighborhood heard him. As I pried his arms from the tree he was trying unsuccessfully to anchor himself to, his meltdown entered the catastrophic range.
I brought Lucas into the house and laid him on the floor, taking off his elbow and knee pads while the screams continued.
"I don't want to take a nap!"
"I never said you had to take a nap. I just want you to lie down and regroup."
"I don't want to regroup!"
"Well, then you can lie down and rest."
Husband, who had been watching this scene unfold, decided to try and help. I could tell by his eyes what he was about to say...
"But he doesn't want to lie down."
For a brief moment, Lucas's screams stopped. He looked at me with a glimmer of hope in his eyes — maybe, just maybe he would get out of this nap thing.
"I don't care if he doesn't want to lie down, he has to lie down."
My reply immediately sent Lucas reeling back into his tantrum. I wished I could shoot laser beams at Husband from my eyes, melting him into the puddle he had shown himself to be.
I picked Lucas up, still kicking and screaming, threw him over my shoulder, and made my way to the den. I set up some pillows, laid him down on the couch, and told him to take some deep breaths. Once the screams subsided, Lucas asked for chocolate milk. But before I could get up to get a sippy, Lucas's eyes were closed and he was deeply fast asleep.
I walked into the next room where my puddle of a Husband was still standing and proudly told him that Lucas was napping. I had stuck to my guns, knowing how tired Lucas was, instead of taking the easier way out and giving in to Lucas's tantrum. Husband replied, "I guess I was wrong."
But the situation wasn't one of right versus wrong. Or good versus evil. The situation was one of doing what was best for Lucas — and not what was easiest for us as parents. Especially because the easy way out generally produces results that are short-lived, not to mention very shortsighted. Ultimately the nap was what was best for all of us. We had plans to go to a restaurant for dinner with my nephew that night, and we would have paid the price later if we'd had to bring along an exhausted and cranky Lucas.
After three years of being parents, Husband and I are still trying to figure out what's in the best interest of our boys, and I don't expect that to change anytime in the next 15 years! We read no parent handbooks before we had kids, and there were no "How to Be Parents" certification classes in our area.
We might be raising our children, but our children are simultaneously raising us.
Doing what's best for our boys will definitely have a delayed benefit, and we can't forget that. It won't be until Lucas and Justin are well-adjusted, polite, respectful adolescents that Husband and I will know that taking the hard road actually paid off.
At this point, we just have to battle one tantrum at a time and hope for the best.