Periodically, one or more of my boys will spend an hour or two at work with me while my wife does the things she has to do to bring home some extra bacon for our household. Despite what I just made that sound like, she is not a call girl. She does perfectly legal work, on top of the work of managing three boys every day.
Last week, Buster spent a couple of hours with me. My bosses are pretty tolerant of my trailing a duckling behind me once in a while, but I still like for the children to be as inconspicuous as possible. It’s a handy privilege that I don’t want to lose.
To that end, my wife sent her iPad with Buster so he could play games on it while I got some work done. It’s a good theory, and it worked reasonably well for a while. The problem is that Buster only mostly knows how to play the iPad games. There is a point in every game when he gets stuck. Then he gets frustrated. Frustrated two-year-olds are not good at keeping themselves inconspicuous.
In order to keep Buster from voicing his frustration in his most piercing toddler voice, I rolled my chair over to him and encouraged him to take deep breaths. “Breathe in. Breathe out. Like this. Whoooooo. Ahhhhhhh. Doesn’t that feel better?”
I may have over-exaggerated the depth of the breaths I demonstrated and he found this amusing.
Before long, he was copying my deep breathing and smiling his bright smile. He was forgetting his frustration and enjoying the breathing game I was playing with him. Of course, it was useful because it was a game; he wouldn’t draw the connection to the calming properties of the deep breaths themselves.
In this way, we eked out the remaining time without any loud whining. My wife picked him up. I took a few calming, deep breaths and went back to work.
Now, Buster is a sweet boy, but he is also a toddler. And you can’t spell toddler without issues. (All of the non-parents are saying, “Wait, what? There’s only one common letter in those two words.” Ah, the innocent spelling rules of non-parents.)
One of Buster’s issues is that he often wakes up angry from naps.
Soon after I got home from work, we heard crying from Buster’s room. I went to rescue him from his nap, but he wouldn’t talk to me nor come to me when I put my arms out for him. I told him to come downstairs when he was ready and left him on his bed to work out his feelings.
A few minutes later, my wife went to check on him. She brought him down with her. He was much more relaxed.
“What was he doing up there?” I asked.
She laughed. “He was sitting on his bed taking deep breaths.”
Sometimes it’s Daddy who isn’t ready to draw the connections.