I am generally hyper (HYPER) conscious of my role as Dad, but sometimes I really fuck up, and about 45 minutes ago was one of those times.
Logan bit me in the leg. I was wiping his butt (he tries his best but he often makes a mess of it) and he bit me.
We were at gymnastics and he had to go to the bathroom, so I followed him into the stall. Mind you, we had been wrestling up until the bathroom break, so Logan was still worked up.
He was just playing and had intended to bite my pants. But he missed. And I didn’t give him time to apologize. I think my sympathetic nervous system is hyperactive. And my primary response is primal and pugnacious. Which would be great if I was being attacked by a drooling ogre or if someone cut in line at my local coffeehouse (do NOT get between me and a good cup of joe).
So I smacked him. And then I cursed. Or I cursed and smacked him at the same time. Then I said something like, “What the hell are you doing?”
That’s when he looked up at me with those huge brown eyes—eyes filled with surprise and hurt. “I didn’t mean to, dad,” he said.
You think that would be enough, that my heart would melt and I would take him in my arms and tell him it was okay. But no, no…I’m afraid not. My idiot Neanderthal brain was still in charge. So instead, I said “That hurt, Logan,” and I stormed out of the stall.
That’s finally, thankfully, when my higher-order brain kicked back in—and then I felt like a total and complete failure. Say yay for higher thought.
“Logan,” I said, opening the door to the stall, “I’m sorry. You just took me by surprise…”
But now it was Logan’s turn to be incensed. His hurt had turned into anger.
“I don’t care, dad. I’m mad at you.” And it was his turn to storm out of the stall. As I watched him go, really bad cliches piled up in my mind, like you reap what you sow and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. And, sadly, they were apropos.
This dad stuff is tough. To paraphrase Nietzsche, “That which doesn’t kill my kid makes me a better parent.”