I’m a huge sentimentalist when it comes to my son, Noah. Duh. He’s my sweet boy with the cartoon-bright brown eyes and the effortless joy and curiosity and the earth-shaking smile. I stare at him with wonder multiple times a day, and as he approaches his third birthday, I can’t believe the novelty hasn’t worn off. He’s the best of what life is.

And around 7pm each night, I want to cradle this precious little boy in my arms, then shot put him into the ocean. As hard as I can.

If you’re an adherent to today’s woke ‘gentle parenting’ movement, your Facebook fingers are already itching to express your horror and disdain. But, the only difference between us is that your complaints are protected by your therapist’s HIPAA compliance requirements. I’m the one who didn’t have to submit a co-pay, so who’s the real winner? It’s neither of us, by the way, and that’s the joke. We are the joke.

People try to warn you of the various challenges in a child’s development. The terrible twos. The ‘threenager’ year. But only experience truly hardens you to the realities of going to war with a 29-pound human wrecking ball (note: a ‘wrecking ball’ is what he called himself the other night when refusing to sleep). He is a child who possesses the words to articulate needs, wants and feelings, and the danger and volatility that you’d expect if that same child were asked to build a homemade bomb.

Children of a certain age treat going to bed with the same enthusiasm as the would-be victim of an attempted murder.

I have read all of the advice about conversation framing, asking the appropriate types of open-ended questions, identifying routines that create a more progressive, smooth transition from daytime to nighttime, etc. I’ve even tried some of my own ideas, like when he tells me he wants to do wrecking balls, I encourage him to roll around on the floor with all of his toddler rage, and get as many as he can out of his system.

Nothing works. His bedtime routine, which features such repulsive rituals as ‘taking a soothing bath with glow sticks and bubbles’ and the vile ‘sing your favorite songs and/or read one or six of your cherished books,’ is rendered moot once we invite unimaginable disgust with the words “it’s time for bed.” Wars have been fought on less hostile terms.

If you’ve been reading this in search of a ‘but he’s worth all of it’ cliche, you’ve come to the wrong place. Of course he’s worth it. I’m just saying when I pictured the type of cartoon-like villain I might encounter in my lifetime, I never imagined he would be a beautiful, emotionally unregulated toddler in Buzz Lightyear pajamas.

God I adore him. But I’ll deny I ever said that around 7:30pm tonight.


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