Father Of The Blog

A Journey Through Fatherhood and Parenting

Father of the Blog

This Old House

We have closed on our old house. Almost ten years packed with many great memories wrapped-up and signed away within an hour at a sterile title office. I proposed to Kim at that old house. It was Thanksgiving weekend 2000: Mimi, then a mangy-just-picked-up-from-the-pound puppy was wearing a new purple collar and hanging from the collar was a heart shaped specially engraved dog-tag that read “Will you marry me?” Hence the dogs name Mary Mimi. Mimi for short. Kim keeps the tag on her key chain. The words are scratched and worn with usage and time, barely legible anymore.

Kim and I brought our little darling daughters home from the hospital after their births to that old house. Olivia and Hailey grew from infants into rambunctious preschoolers, they filled all the empty space with toys, clothes, shoes, art projects, kid-knacks, hair and countless other accessories, inflating that old house until Elizabeth Rose came along and burst the brick and mortar at the seams.

It was time to move on. Our new house, which happens to be the house I grew up in, was too good to pass up. On a quiet cul-de-sac, a large fenced-in back yard, a finished basement with a playroom and an elementary school within walking distance. The kiddos were familiar with the house prior to us moving in which helped with the transition. They have adjusted to the move well and only make reference to our old place on the way to and from their preschool. Daily they request a drive by and it is not far out of the way, so I always oblige them. We make note if our old neighbors are home and we fall silent as I slowly creep by the old house, ghosts of ourselves wave too us as we pass by.

Olivia Tests My Authority

This past Tuesday felt like an old ‘daddy day.’ Kim had some running around to do so I was home all day with the kiddos. Maybe she did that to prep me for the real deal coming up next week when she goes back to work. Olivia, Hailey and I had plans to go swimming after rest-time when Kim got home from her errands. Olivia and Hailey spent quiet-time bouncing off the walls in their room, normal for them. Around three thirty, I told them to start getting ready to go to the pool, Kim was still out. While they were getting their swim-suits on, I was getting all the swim gear gathered up and organizing it all on the kitchen counter. Towels from their bedroom closet, check. Extra undies from their shared dresser, check. A couple Barbie dolls for water rescue missions from their bedroom floor, check. My gym bag, which may as well be called the family swimming bag, from the hall closet, check. Lastly, goggles from their backpacks and this is when the problem started.

Me: “Olivia where are your goggles?” Shouting from the living room.

Olivia: “I duno!” Shouting back from her bedroom.

Me: “Well, they are not in your backpack!”

Olivia: “I want them! Get them!”

Me: “Well, sweetie, if they are not in your backpack then I don’t know where they are!”

Olivia: “I want them! Where are they?!” Swimsuit underneath her clothes and ready to go, she runs into the living room to inspect her backpack.

Me: “Your goggles are your responsibility Honey.”

Olivia: “I want them! Where are they?!” Rooting through her backpack.

Me: “It’s ok. Maybe you left them at the pool during your swim lesson? We will check when we get there Honey.”

Olivia: “I want them! Where are they?! Hailey took them!”

Me: “No sweetie, those are Hailey’s, I just took them out of her bag.” She looks through her backpack again and I place Hailey’s goggles next to the gym bag on the kitchen counter and go into my bedroom to get ready.

Olivia: “I want them! Where are they?! Olivia: “I want them! Where are they?! Olivia: “I want them! Where are they?! Olivia: “I want them! Where are they?! Olivia: “I want them! Where are they?! Olivia: “I want them! Where are they?!”… About five minutes of this.

Me: “We will look for them at the pool Honey!” Hiding from my bed room.

Olivia: “I want them! I want them! I want them!” Olivia: “I want them! I want them! I want them!” Olivia: “I want them! I want them! I want them!” Olivia: “I want them! I want them! I want them!” Olivia: “I want them! I want them! I want them!” Olivia: “I want them! I want them! I want them!”… Five more minutes.

Me: “I understand, you want your goggles, we will check at the pool sweetie.” I was almost ready just had to pack-up the bag.

Olivia: “I want them! I want them! I want them!” Olivia: “I want them! I want them! I want them!” Olivia: “I want them! I want them! I want them!” Olivia: “I want them! I want them! I want them!” Olivia: “I want them! I want them! I want them!” Olivia: “I want them! I want them! I want them!” … Five more minutes

Me: “Olivia! I know your upset that your goggles are missing we will look for them at the pool.”

Olivia: “I want them right now! Where are they?! I want them now!”

Me: “Olivia! If you ask me one more time about your missing goggles…I am not taking you swimming!” The ultimatum slipped out. I really didn’t want to say that, but I did.

Hailey: “And me daddy?”

Me: “You can still go Hailey. And so can Sissy. If she stops complaining about her misplaced goggles.” The room was silent for about ten seconds.

Olivia: “But I want my goggles.”

Me: “That’s it Olivia, you are not going swimming.”

Olivia: “But I want to go swimming!” Sobbing.

Me: “I asked you not to mention your missing goggles and you just did. No. No swimming!”

Olivia: “But I want to go swimming!” Sobbing, knees buckle and she falls to the ground.

Hailey: “And me daddy?”

Me: “Just me and you Hailey.”

Olivia: “But I want to go swimming too! I want to go!”

Me: “No, You are not going swimming!” I couldn’t back down now. I start to pack the swim gear into the gym bag and noticed that Hailey’s goggles are not where I had left them.

Me: “Where? What? Hailey now where are your goggles?” I tear apart the gym bag and head into the living room to double check the backpacks. I start to think I am losing my mind.

Hailey: “Here they are!” She pulls the goggles out of the trash can. Banana peelings cling to the pink Speedo’s

Me: “Olivia! Did you put those in the trash!?” She didn’t answer and I didn’t really need to ask. Flash backs of my dad lashing me with a thick leather belt enter my head.

Me: “That was a mistake! Now you’re in timeout.” I escort her to the designated timeout spot. “You’re time out for trashing your sisters’ goggles!” I let her sit for a few minutes as I assure Hailey that the two of us will be going swimming.

Me: “Why were you in timeout?” Kneeling down inches from Olivia.

Olivia: “I threw Hailey’s goggles in the trash.” Sniffling.

Me: “Why did you do that?”

Olivia: “I duno” She honestly didn’t.

Me: “Well sweetie, I think that you were so upset that you couldn’t find your goggles that you didn’t want Hailey to have hers either.”

Olivia: “Mmm Hmm”

Me: “Well sweetie, that was a mistake and I think Hailey would feel better about her dirty goggles if you apologized.”

Olivia: “Sorry Hailey.”

Me: “Look her in the face when you say that.”

Olivia: “Sorry Hailey.”

I consoled Olivia until Kim got home, replaying the scenario multiple times while offering better solutions to her mistakes but never mentioned my mistake which was an unfair punishment for her extreme emotional outburst and normal for a kid her age. She was upset that she lost her goggles and even though I let her know that we would look for them where she most likely had left them I couldn’t let her grieve completely. Maybe she just needed another few minutes to vent. Although once I told her that she couldn’t go swimming, had I reversed my decision, I would have made two mistakes. My authority is absolute and must always be. Not for me but for my girls.

Side Note: The lost goggles were not in the pool’s lost and found bin, but the very next day when arriving at preschool, the admin assistant, whom runs the school’s office, let me know that her daughter had come home with Olivia’s goggles.

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2 Responses to “This Old House”

  1. March 17th, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Lisa Mom of 2 Boys says:

    You are so much better at that than I am. I suck at keeping ultimatums. I know it is horrible, but I just suck at it. Great job!

  2. July 14th, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Dyan Delbrune says:

    Great site.

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