Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sleepless in Sandy

     There's a recurring problem in my home. It happens every other twenty-four-hour period, when my husband is off-duty from the fire department. This issue plagues my life like no other, and has for at least the past two years. There appears to be no solution, short of offing my spouse. Here's what happens.
     "Ian, it's time for bed," I say lovingly.
     "No! Want Daddy!"
     "Go pick a bedtime story," I add. He does this part okay, as long as he's not watching T.V. or otherwise engaged in an activity involving his father.
     After reading the story, I say, with great tenderness, "Let's tuck you in now."
     Fleeing the scene and screeching like a possessed monkey he cries, "No! Daddy!"
     Now this is where it gets interesting.
     My husband scoops him up and tickles him and hugs him and loves him and strokes his ego, then declares, "Do what your mom says," sending him back my way.
     Uh-huh. Not gonna happen.
     Sometimes there's a tantrum. Other times Ian latches on to Scott's leg or neck and must be pried loose with a crowbar. Too often, my sweet spouse succumbs to the pressure and allows the delinquent to have his way for... oh... ten more minutes. Well, ten turns into twenty, which turns to forty. And every time I try to break them apart, Ian gets more agitated and hostile toward me.
     About two months ago, after a particularly difficult evening, I confronted Scott about his enabling behavior. "Well, dear, it's clear. Ian's balls are bigger than yours." A few more words were exchanged, but we don't need to go into that here.
     Since that time, Scott has made improvements. Now let me be clear about something. Scott was/is not always the enabler. He often tries to simply keep the peace and speak reason to an out-of-control and frazzled woman. We complement each other. He's the softy, I'm the tyrant. But with Scott's new efforts, something has become quite clear. My sweet little boy isn't just spoiled rotten the way I'd initially assumed. There is an underlying issue.
     Obsession. Hyper-focusing.
     I'm not sure what to do about this. Last night was the most apparent. The kid could not settle down. He knew that Scott was in the house, therefore, he had to be with him. Touching him, seeing him, basking in his angelic glow. The more I threatened the worse the obsession became. Scott and I were both exasperated. Eight o'clock turned into nine, which turned into ten, and still the kid could not sleep. He was exhausted, but his brain could not turn off the daddy switch. Julie described it perfectly the next day. She said, "It's like taking a smoker who's been nicotine deprived for 24 hours and slapping a pack of cigarettes in front of them, telling them not to touch."
     Scott is Ian's nicotine. The kid is addicted to his father.
     So as I post this entry during the wee hours of the morning, because I can't sleep, I wonder--is there a twelve-step program for something like this?
     "Hello. My name is Ian. And I'm... addicted to my dad."

1 comment:

Kim Bringhurst said...

Many of the techniques I use on my dogs work for my kids... Maybe you should put a call in to Cesar Milan? He could come out, apply his calm assertive energy, maybe take Ian out for a run with his rollerblades. ;) But seriously, I think you're on to something there with the daddy addiction idea.