Any control issues I’ve managed to work out via therapy, divine intervention, or cookies remain firmly entrenched in the kitchen.
Just ask Melissa whose anxiety meter hits red zone whenever she enters a three foot radius while I’m chopping parsley.
My brothers’ romantic partners have reported similar phenomena, so it’s clearly genetic and, therefore, not my fault.
This morning, I was making an omelette in my prized oversized commercial pan from Ocean State Job Lot.
I’d missed the boys’ second breakfast window, and after several skirmishes over who would possess the one T-Rex to rule them all, Jude was belting “I’m huuuungry” on slide-y scales with a very draggy soft palate.
I sang the Daniel Tiger reminder song — “When you wait 🎵, you can play🎵, sing or imagine anything🎵.”
But my glucose-depleted 2-year-old was not feeling the calming tunes.
Breathe, Daddy, breathe.
The omelette finally set on the bottom, so I hauled the pan over to the sink to execute my best Julia Child skillet flip.
Daddy I’m huuungry
One. Two. Three. FLIP!
And somehow, I managed to hurl one third of the wet-on-top omelette out of the pan and splatter it across the countertop and floor.
Three. Two, One…..🤯
You know that scene in Sweeney Todd when he’s about to slit Judge Turpin’s throat, and Anthony runs in?
I was Sweeney post bleed-block.
Melissa scuttled the boys out of the kitchen, and I sputtered out a different Daniel Tiger song while I wet some paper towels.
For me, parenting points my face straight into the gaping chasm of abject failure:
I lose my shit; I get sarcastic; I expect my 2- and 4-year-old boys to have fully functioning prefrontal cortices.
Mid-fail, I usually hear a low whispery Instagram influencer voice in my mind’s ear: “Your boys need you to help them co-regulate.”
I roll my eyes at the imaginary frenemy and retort, “How’m I sposed to co-regulate anybody when I can’t regulate mySELF?”
Failure and I are on familiar terms:
I’ve snotted and cried through voice lessons, heaved and sobbed in front of class strangers, and yodel-cracked A-flats in front of paying audiences.
And that’s just the list from the artist zone. I haven’t even enumerated my interpersonal/relational explosions.
But, parenting’s been the daily express train to the end of me. Like, by 8:30am.
And, being Daddy to these lil nuggets is one of the the great privilege-miracles of my life.
What’s a thing you know (like my control freak DNA :)) you arrived on this planet downloaded to do?
And what’s the thing about your transcendent wiring that presses your nose into failure on the regular?
The thing about it that’s at once divine and sucky is that these failure spots are where the gold is.
For me, parental eye rolls, sarcasm, and impatience point all fingers back to the places where I talk to myself like dookie.
It also highlights the places where I say no to myself for no good reason.
Because I said so!
This is creative ideas, projects, the show that needs to get on its feet for a workshop.
So, thank you oversized omelette flip meltdown.
The other healing (or as Jude says, heawing) comes when I say, “Buddy, I lost my patience. I’m working on it. Will you please forgive me?”
Hug. “I love you, Daddy.”
What if we said that to ourselves, too?
Hey buddy, I’m sorry I grounded you that time and said you couldn’t even sit down and write down a list of songs you might wanna sing for that cabaret.
And I apologize for the time I wouldn’t even let you audition for that show because I told you you weren’t what they were looking for anyway. Way harsh.
I think we might be onto a very hea(w)ing practice — the apology to ourselves.
I’ll write the folks at Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and suggest a new life hack jingle.
Yeah, I’ve yet to discover the fame, success, and ice cream path to deep life satisfaction and lasting learning. When I do, you’ll be the first to know which brand of Moose tracks did the trick.
But until then, just remember there’s only one you, and folks need to hear the story only you can sing.
ps If there were a day of song magic in NYC this summer
(Song Magic: simple ways to be sparkly, noncompete-able you; offensively simple story-technique tools; and a home-cooked meal)
would you be into that?
If yes, just click this and hit send.
pps Have you seen Physical on Apple TV+? It’s so well done. Terrific writing, and an artful deep dive into the art of toxic self-talk.
Also, my pal Deirdre Friel does terrific work. She and I did a production of Cinderella back in the DAY at Arkansas Rep. She played one of the stepsisters, and she decided the reason she was so miserable was because she suffered from a perpetual cold. She also played piano and harmonized with me for a CD of hymns I recorded for my Papa when he was in his final days and I couldn’t get home. These are the things show folk do together. At any rate, it’s terrific to see friends who work hard and do great work get recognized.
ppps And if you wanna jump in on some NYC song magic and food, email me back.