Escape artist or pushover? | Mark’s Remarks

marksOkay, I’ll admit it: I’m a pushover sometimes when it comes to my kids. This is especially evident when they are babies.

Now that the oldest three are beyond the toddler years at ages 15, 13 and 10, I no longer need to worry about succumbing to their charms. I can be a tough guy with the older kids. Well, not always.

I’ve gone to great lengths for all of them lately. I have gone out of my way to help them with various whims and the pleasantries of being young.  Space limitations cause me to avoid specifics. Let’s just say, they can still get a lot out of old dad sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong. I still make them tow the line. I still say “no” a lot. I don’t want you to think I don’t practice what I regularly preach in this column.

But many wives will tell you that the dad is more lenient. I am the one who buys the junk food at the store. I’m the one who buys everyone their own soda at the fast food joint. I am the one who lets them watch one more show.

I am especially a soft touch when it comes to bed time. My kids knew this about me from the get go. Our oldest would often fuss and fight about bed time, and more than once I could be found sleeping on the floor next to his crib, just to get him to settle down. My wife did not approve, but again, I’m a pushover.

Our younger son was by far the easiest kid.  He never fussed.  He was laid back and I constantly remind the other two how easy of a toddler he was.  “Good night, mom. Good night, dad.” That was it. No fussing.

Our older daughter was soft spoken and didn’t squeal, but she quietly requested us to hang around after tucking her in.  Many times, I fell asleep in the rocking chair next to her bed.

And now, we have the baby.  The last Tullis. The queen of the castle. By far, the most difficult of the four. The spitfire. The 2-year-old. When she was a baby in the crib, we (me) often sat in the same rocking chair that was once in her sister’s room.

I remember trying to slither out of her room. I would ease my way down to the floor and scoot out of the room, trying to keep from making noise. It rarely worked.

One night as I began the boot scoot boogie, I had my back down in the seat of the chair. I was just about to lower myself to the floor. There was a squeak from the wood floorboards.  The chair gave a groan.

As if in slow motion, I saw a tiny, chubby little arm slowly creep up over the side of the crib. Soon, I saw the arm raise the tiny little body up to eye level above the crib bumper.  Luckily, I had eased my way back up into the chair and pretended to be asleep.  It would be several minutes before I could make my final escape.

While I wait for her to fall asleep, I think of all the episodes of “Super Nanny” we’ve watched, shaking our heads at all these pushover parents. Then I start thinking of all the money I could make by designing a life-like “parent dummy.” It would be battery operated.  The dummy would appear to be breathing. It could be covered with a blanket, made to look as if sleeping on the floor next to the crib or in a rocking chair.  It would come in various hair colors.

Now that we have graduated from crib to “big girl” bed, we have a whole new set of issues.  Now, when we don’t want to go to bed, we fuss for a while and we pad into mom and dad’s room, sniffling pitifully and saying things like “I don’t wike bed time.”

You would all be proud of me. I dutifully escort her back into the bed room. I don’t speak.  I pat her on the back or give her a hug and put her back in her bed. All of this I’ve learned from “Super Nanny.”

Last night, I‘m pretty sure I made five or more trips. We’ll see what tonight brings. Maybe more trips. Maybe less. I’ll let you know.

I still think “parent dummy” is a good idea. Don’t you?

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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