My son and I spent the last 30 minutes before bed time working on the spelling of his name. December has been full of parties for others, his birthday party, relatives, Christmas gifts, and sparse school attendance. As a result, I have noticed that my wife and I have had to do engage in much more disciplinary-related activities than usual. In fact, during December it felt like Nyles was either playing with toys, getting yelled at or occasionally getting spanked.
Since today was the first day back to school, I decided to a) spend some time doing some educational activity before bed time and b) go online to take a peek at his teacher's curriculum to see the themes the teacher is now hammering home to the kids. Nyles was resistant at first, because all he wanted to do was play with his pinball machine, the monster trucks, his Minions or one of the millions of toys he received for Christmas and his birthday. But eventually, he warmed up to it, and we practiced writing his name legibly. He did not achieve mastery like I foolishly thought he would, but he tried and at this point that's all I can ask.
After we finished writing, I told him it was time to get read his night time story, and he responded by saying, "I don't want to read". I ignored his ass, and nicely asked him again, and he repeated his refusal. This time I went down to his level, gently touched his shoulders, and explained to him that it was time for bed, and part of the bed time routine involves reading, and he calmed his ass down, and picked out a book. I left the room, my wife entered (she's on bedtime story duty), and she excitedly asked him to read and he gave her the same bullshit company line. She explained to him that it was time to read, he complained again, and then I doubled back and went in the room, and yelled, "What did Mommy say? What did I say earlier? It is time to read ok?". He said ok which made me happy. But he cringed and backed away from me when I entered the room, that made me cringe.
I have raised my voice and spanked my son, and I only feel bad about one of those things. When I spank my son, it involves a singular open-handed smack to his back side. It is never hard enough to make him cry, but it is hard enough to get his ass in gear. It is usually a deliberate, calculated move on my part, and it is never done out of misplaced, uncontrolled emotion. My dad got out of control when he used to spank me, and my brother and I paid dearly. My father has since expressed his regret for taking that extreme route, and my brother and I accepted his apology. Ironically enough, his apology came not too long after the Adrian Peterson situation.
But I sadly have to admit that when I raise my voice at my son, I am usually irritated at something or someone else, and my emotions combined with whatever Nyles is doing wrong, adds up to a bad situation. When I raise my voice, I see my son visibly get smaller and turn away from me (like he did at bedtime) and that has to stop. I have to do better in that department. Don't get me wrong, I do think fear is an effective tactic for black fathers to use when raising young black kids but respect has to be peppered in just as much. I want my kid behaving because he fears the consequences AND he respects me enough to do his best.
Kids are nice and the nice pictures I put up here, facebook, Instagram, etc represent the glorious side of parenting. But there is another side of it, and at times it is far from pretty, but luckily for me (and Nyles) it is very correctable. I'll get started on that tomorrow when he wakes up.