My most favorite thing to be called in the whole world is "Special, Special Daddy". It's Ian's name for me when he's feeling especially attached to his daddy. I can always tell when he's having a good day by the little pet names he uses for the rest of us in the family. However, tonight it was Caleb who needed his daddy...
Tonight I met the rest of the fam at Spageddies after work. As I was walking in, Beth was giving a stern lecture to the boys, and they seemed pretty cranky about it. Caleb especially. Ian had gotten hurt at school today, and has a pretty bad mark on the back of his neck, but was reasonably okay as far as demeanor. Caleb had no obvious reason - other than perhaps being hungry - but he was a cranky-pants. He didn't like where he was seated (by me), got mad at the puzzle in his menu and was just plain surly.
Well, I happened to be feeling especially patient for some reason and so I started to use a little psychology on Caleb and within minutes we were happily drawing each other mazes on the paper table covering. By the end of the meal, Caleb was sitting on my lap and I was singing both parts to Mahna Mahna to him back and forth between his ears as he grinned uncontrollably. By the end of the night, I has both boys doubled over laughing hysterically at bath time over the "jungle bells, Batman smells" song (I'm ashamed to admit).
There are many days where I come home and am swept up in the current of everyone else's attitude. But, every once in awhile I figure out how to take the initiative and set a different tone and get everyone else to follow it. For whatever reason, I often find it easier to work on Caleb's attitude, as Ian is too much like me at times, and that makes me somehow less able to sympathize and validate him. It's something I need to work on because he needs that validation so much, and without it he is quite stubborn and will have a hard time deciding to set a better course. Regardless of emotion and, as CS Lewis put it, "good digestion" - Beth and I both do our best to make sure both the boys know that they will always get unconditional love from us.