A Father Imperfect

Dear Michael,

You’re eight years old and scooping cold cereal from a bowl. You’re watching early morning cartoons, so engrossed you let milk dribble onto the living-room coffee table.

Eat over your bowl, I tell you. How many times have I told you that?

You look at me warily. Then you cough, but you forget to cover your mouth.

Cover your mouth when you cough, I say. I must’ve told you that a thousand times. I’m tired of reminding you to follow these simple procedures. I wish that, at least for once, you would absorb my advice.

Now you’re taking your time with the cereal and the cartoons.

Get dressed, Michael, I say. But 10 minutes later, you’re still in your bathrobe, dawdling, a puddle of milk spreading on the coffee table. Get dressed! I boom. Now!

You gobble the last of your cereal and move toward your clothes. As you do, I smack you lightly on the behind.

Do this. Do that. Do it right. Do it now.

Why? I ask myself. So what if you spill some milk? So what if you cough without covering your mouth? Why must I play the drill sergeant, coming down so hard on my son?

I should let you off the hook, I think. Once in a while, I realize, I should just let the small stuff slide. If I accept you as you are, I might come closer to accepting myself, too.

P.S. – Three guest blogs will appear next week in honor of my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.

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