This is Daily Dadspeak—daily reflections on becoming a dad, while still growing up myself. You can find the full mini-pod audio list here.
There wasn’t much blood. But the scratch marks across his brother’s back were deep, and the thump which came just before sounded like it hurt just as bad.
I yelled to separate them. The attacker stormed off to his room blaming the attacked, who was on the sofa clearly in pain.
Then I took a deep breath and went to talk to the attacker, who insisted his brother had started it. Ever heard that one before?
I sat down next to him and calmly began empathetically:
“I know your brother can be a pain. I know he pokes and picks at you. I know it feels like he’s always starting everything. And I’m sure that’s what happened before you scratched him…”
And he knew what was coming next. Before I could get any further, he interjected in a machine-like robotic voice:
“Press ‘B’ to skip tutorial.”
Now, some parents might have taken that as a sign of disrespect and lack of remorse.
I bursted out laughing.
My kids rarely fight, and 95% of the time they’re respectful, happy, helpful around the house, and all-around good kids. Honestly, I consider myself lucky (so far).
So I didn’t interpret his comment as disrespectful or dismissive. I saw his face and he was suffering. He knew he overreacted and hurt his brother, and he felt awful about it.
He didn’t need me to read him the tutorial. He’d already put himself through it.
Plus, I thought his comment was funny as hell.
Of course kids need to be disciplined, and every child and situation has its own needs and nuances. And it’s important to be in tune with those nuances.
Because sometimes the lesson is there without you driving it home. Sometimes the most productive step forward is to laugh and let be.
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