More often than not it seems to the hubs like I'm giving him conflicting parental advice. He frowns in that irritated fashion and points out how I've once again flip-flopped on my technique.
And I may well have. Over the course of 8 hours, while my good man has been diligently off earning the money-honey, it's not impossible that Momma would have stumbled across a new and ingenious method of getting Lennox to stop bulldog charging his big brother, or to get Sawyer to happily eat his cucumber slices.
Parenting is a transient skill - a bit like teaching - and it differs greatly on the age of the kid, his personality, and the day to day situation we each find ourselves in. Nothing is black or white and as soon as you think you've got it all figured out an even bigger and greater challenge rears its ugly head.
So I may have had an epiphany sometime between brekkie and before they laid down their wee heads - but what's more likely is that Daddy just didn't fully get where I was coming from in the first place. Daddy likes rules. He needs the black and white - but Momma likes to swirl around in the grey zone.
So tonight after supper when Lennox hit Daddy he got a stern response and a Time-Out. And what was Mommy's response?
"Awwwwww ....." [with sad eyes, wrinkled forehead and pinched lips]
I know most of you are in Daddy's corner right now, but you only know half the story. See, while Mommy was loading dishes Daddy and Lennox were wrestling and the little piggy squeals and throaty giggles were beautiful to hear - not just from Lennox and Daddy - but from their rapt one lady audience who was bouncing and squealing in delight at all the roughhouse play.
Then Lennox swung for Daddy. There wasn't anything malicious about it. His round eyes were sparkling adoringly at Daddy and his wide mouth was deeply curved in a wondrous smile. Still, Daddy told him off.
And my heart ached as that eager and happy face dissolved into concern and confusion.
I know he needs to know right from wrong. And hitting is not okay in our house. In fact it's one of the only offences that warrants a Time-Out. But it wasn't exactly a 'hit'. It was more an excited physical outburst of emotion. The little guy just needed some place for all that happy energy to go!
Not the same thing, right?
On hearing my sympathetic, "Awww" Daddy's sternness quickly redirected towards Mommy - probably a more deserving target in any case - and so I explained weakly,
"He was so happy. I just don't want the light in his eyes to die..."
Daddy nodded, and his irritation and frustration at being undermined dissipated as quickly as it has arisen.
"That's beautiful." He acknowledged gruffly.
It's not that I wanted Daddy to ignore the offence - emotional outburst or no the kid needs to know violence is not an acceptable form of communication - but I sort of feel like the situation warranted a gentler admonishment. Still firm - but not spirit crushing.
See - I like my shades of grey. And once I explained it to Daddy he was happy with the grey too... at least until the next time Lennox strikes.
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