The Dark Side

It started with the covers.

This morning, from 7:00am – 7:25am, I had the privilege of sharing my side of the bed with a tall, red-headed child who will turn four in exactly one week. My husband had left early for the day, my daughter had already made her way downstairs, and so it was just the two of us, still traveling in and out of slumber, snuggling.

“Mommy?” a small, hoarse voice roused me from a dream.

“I’m cold. Can you make me comfy cozy?”

And so I wrapped my white blanket around his little shoulders and then pulled my white duvet over my burrito-boy.

His blue eyes lit up and he smiled. “I’m so comfy cozy, mama!”

“He is so delicious,” I thought. “This stage is so yummy.”

We lingered together, under the covers, until making our way down to breakfast, both smiling all the way.

Wouldn’t that be such a nice way to end this post? Absolutely. A lovely, heartwarming snapshot of the morning with my baby boy.

But…

that would not be telling the whole story. And, I like to tell the whole story. Because, while my life has plenty of sunshine and rainbows it is most certainly not all sunshine and rainbows.

Keep. It. Real.

Here is the rest of the story.

The first part of the day continued to be great. He let me dress him in a super cute outfit (a Nirvana baseball tee, flannel shirt, distressed gray jeans rolled up), he ate a good breakfast and told me that he loved me several times.

Score!

As a reward for a few days of good behavior I had promised him a new Kylo Ren toy. Say what you will about bribery, but, if you are a parent and have never uttered a sentence that resembles:

“If you do/don’t do ____ then you can have _____”, then

a) I worship at your shrine

or

b) I do not believe you.

Today was busy. I had work to complete, appointments to attend, conversations to have, and during one such conversation, at exactly 2:49pm, I stopped, panicked and said, “OMG! I forget to get the Kylo Ren toy!”, my mouth filled with the burrito that I was choking down for my late lunch.

It was too late to run to the store, Amazon Prime isn’t that good, and I had exactly 11 minutes before I had to pick him up from school. I finished my burrito while searching for a toy that I could give to him, pretending that it was new. Thank goodness for a bin of Lego’s from Bubbie that I had been hiding, as I positioned it prominently in the center of the living room and scooted off to sit in car line at his school.

Without fail, my son greeted me with a big smile and a, “Did you get my my surprise, mommy? Is my Kylo Ren toy here? Does he talk?”

I explained to him that while I did have a surprise for him, it was not, in fact, Kylo Ren, but something even better.

He entered our home with trepidation and excitement, eagerly awaiting the big reveal.

No joke, he saw a small vase of flowers on the kitchen table and said, “Wow! Those are so beautiful!” which I am 99% sure was because he thought that, perhaps, the flowers were his surprise.

I led him into the living room with the giant bin of Legos and shouted, “Surprise!”

He totally bought it. He was super psyched. He was also very excited that I had agreed to build with him; he was the general contractor/project manager with grand plans and I was his worker.

“We have to make two different buildings,” he explained. “It has to be Star Wars and we will have a light side but we also have to have The Dark Side.”

Let me just explain a few things, if they are not already obvious:

1. Star Wars !?!?!?!??!?!?!?

2. Legos?!?! I cannot even load the dishwasher

points #1 and #2 are explained here and here

3. I am truly amazed by his creativity and ability to dream up a plan and then bring his vision to life

4. He told me that, after building the Batmobile for him last week, I am now “easy at Legos” which I think means that he thinks that I am good. And please do not tell him otherwise.

We were having the best time playing but, alas, we had to cut our building time short, even though I had managed to make The Dark Side with stairs that led to a steering wheel, multiple bridges and some other dark things. My kids had to go to the eye doctor and it was going to be a tight squeeze to get there on time.

IMG_6041

(via my Insta Story)

My son did not take this well. He did not want to stop playing, even though I assured him that the more quickly we got to the ophthalmologist’s office, the more quickly we could come home to resume our building. As he stomped out of the house he managed to touch or hit or whack as many things as he could, in protest.

My darling little Lightsaber.

“Why is she telling this incredibly detailed, tedious story?” you may be asking yourself.

Oh, because the next 25 minutes were some of the hardest in all of my 7 and a half years of parenting.

My son’s frustration about the Lego situation turned into sheer rage. As we waited for my daughter at the bus, sitting in the car so that we could scoop her up with the greatest facility en route to our appointment, he started to get more and more fussy. And by fussy I mean angry and defiant. He started to scream, yell and cry. He kicked the seat in front of him. He kicked off his shoes.

I stayed extremely calm. “You need to listen to me,” I explained. “The more things you do to keep us from getting to eye doctor on time, the longer it will be before we get home to play with our Legos again. If you can turn your behavior around now, we can go home and play. But, if you do not control yourself, no Legos.”

This did not work.

The next thing I knew, he had taken off his pants. And his tiny little boxer briefs. Yes, my son was so angry that he thought that he would rebel against me by stripping. My daughter, fresh off the bus, got into the car to see her brother completely naked from the waist down.

I told him to pull his pants up and get his act together. Evidently, he took this to mean, “Stay naked and make this even worse by taking off the seatbelt!” As I drove down a busy street, racing to make it to the doctor within the 20 minute grace period, I saw that my half naked son was also only halfway buckled into his carseat. The part that was still on him was around his neck.

Then, it got a bit frantic. I had no way to pull over, so I had to get my daughter to unbuckle him so that he could avoid being strangled, only to re-buckle him, while still staying buckled in her own seat.

It was a HOT MESS.

WE were a HOT MESS.

After the (surprisingly successful and clothed) appointment, I stood my ground. He was allowed to save his precious buildings, I would not dismantle The Dark Side, but he could not build any more. This was his consequence for behavior that can only be described as abysmal.

The bad behavior continued at home. He did not like this punishment. I could see him deciding whether or not to break my things. He screamed. He kicked and cried. He filled up a cup of water in his bathroom and held it up, threatening to dump it out. And so, despite how hard it was, I said, “Ok. That’s it. You are going to bed.”

But, I had a problem. I could not leave him alone in his room, as I knew that he would make it as messy as humanly possible in retaliation. My daughter had homework to do, I had food to make and eat, but I had no choice:

I had to get into his bed with him.

And so, now, as I sit here and type, we are back to the covers.

He is curled up next to me, occasionally crying or kicking his feet,

and then, at times, trying to hold my hand.

I look at him and feel so much love. Even when he is acting like a raging beast. He is my baby.

Today, he showed me that, along with his deliciousness (which I savor) he can bring out The Dark Side,

and not just with Legos. My son is not going to do things on anyone’s terms but his own.

As a parent this can be tremendously frustrating. He is going to have to learn to follow the rules.

But…

if I am being totally honest…

I am just the tiniest bit proud of him. He is tough as nails. He stands up for the things in which he believes and has no fear. I will raise him to be respectful and will always show him that there are consequences to his actions, but, I also want him to continue to feel things deeply and to fight passionately for his causes.

He is loving and sweet. He is incredibly snuggly and creative. If anyone tries to mess with his sister he puts a stop to it immediately. He is protective and strong.

He has grown up learning to value and be kind to all people. He has learned to always respect females. This was just natural for him, as his sister is his idol and his world. I will continue to foster and encourage this, as I am responsible for helping to shape a boy who will, hopefully, become a member of our society and affect change in this world in some way. I will try my best to help him to channel his feelings (and temper) in positive directions, whether it be on the playing field, in the board room or on the debate team; whether he wants to be a musician, an artist, a scientist or President. I will teach him, with the help of his dad and sister, to be, above all else, a good human being. Because he is. And though he can go to the dark side, right now, as I type, he is snuggled up next to me, making up voices for the little Star Wars figures that he sneaked into bed.
“Ha Ha Ha you will never get me,” he said.

I am going to see if he is ready to get comfy cozy. And when he is, I will wrap his chevron sheets around his little shoulders and then pull his woodlands-themed duvet up to his chin.

And I will tell him how much I love him.

Ok, I could not make this up if I tried:

He is playing with his Rey toy and, just as I was preparing to write the last line of this post, he said,
“Here’s my light side and here’s my dark side.”

I couldn’t have finished this any more poetically, as this story just wrote itself.

It started with the covers. And it will end in the same way. There was just a whole lot in between.

Happiness & anger, clothing & nudity, darkness & light.

“I am going to go under the covers, now, because my toys are under there. Is that OK, mommy?” he just asked me.

(I SWEAR TO YOU that I am not making this up. This is happening in real time. And I am only on the computer next to him in an effort to give him quiet, alone time while minimizing the damage to his room.)

“Sure,” I told him.

“Thanks, mommy. Thank you for allowing me to go under my covers. I am going to make it a fort!”

And I think that I am going to join him. It may be dark, but I have found his light side, once again.

This little lightsaber of mine is ready to get comfy cozy, and so am I.

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