Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Mad at Dad

I knew I should've just driven around for 5 more minutes to find an open spot on the street. But I didn't. I wasn't even that impatient this time, at least not the way I used to be when looking for parking, and yet I still didn't keep looking. Instead, I parked where it was clearly marked I shouldn't park without a permit, thinking in my head I'd get away with it.

I did not get away with it.

I wouldn't find out for hours, though. I was taking my daughters and one of their friends to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for the afternoon. We parked up the small hill from the Boardwalk because when it's really busy, it's tough to drive close to it and park. Plus, being a local, I didn't want to pay for parking, and a little walk never hurt anyone.

This was the dad weekend, since my wife, Amy, the mom, was away at her high school reunion. We had wanted to go together, but since it was the first week of school for the girls, we wanted them to stay close to home. Mom was having a blast, and the night before had sent me a cute video of her "mom" dancing with her friends at 11:30 pm, way past our usual bedtime. On the other hand, I stayed up late myself, watching Avengers: End Game after I put the girls to bed.

We know how to rock and roll.

The next day, after I parked the car, the kids and I walked down to the Boardwalk. The fog burned off and it was a lovely day. We rode some rides, got yummy snacks, and overall had a great time.

Until Bryce got hangry. This is a pretty common condition for those of you with kids who, when they get hungry, they get grumpy and angry. This isn't just specific to kids; adults can get hangry, too. Amy used to get hangry when we were first dating.

First, it started with a request to ride one of the rides that we had already walked a ways away from, coming close to the end of our visit.

"I want to go on Ghost Blasters!"

"I want to go on Ghost Blasters!"

"I want to go on Ghost Blasters!"

"Bryce, I said no, we've got to get back soon. We're still going to ride the bumper cars and the carousel again."

"No, I want to go on Ghost Blasters!"

"Do you want another snack, Bryce? Are you hungry?"

There's a point where hangry combines with being tired for a truly special meltdown, where no food will help. Bryce refused any new snacks, so Beatrice and their friend tried to help console Bryce and distract her, but the meltdown continued. She tugged on me and hit me with her hat annoyingly.

"I want to go on Ghost Blasters!"

"I want to go on Ghost Blasters!"

"I want to go on Ghost Blasters!"

In the past, I'd always try to fight fire with fire, threatening punitive measures if she didn't stop with the tantrum. Which, by the way, isn't easy for a 9-year-old. Or, any of us for that matter when we're tired and hungry. I lit the battle fires in my head and hands, battled for a bit, and then extinguished them. There was no point. It wouldn't make any difference. I texted Amy that Bryce was "Mad at Dad" and she texted back "Sorry". I hugged Bryce, told her I loved her and that I was sorry she was upset, and as soon as the bumper cars were over we were going home. Then I just let her burn herself out. She softened after the ride and as we walked back to the car, she held my hand and stayed quiet.

When we got to the car, Beatrice said, "Looks like you didn't get a ticket, Dad."

I saw the parking ticket tucked under the windshield wiper. "No, it's there."

"Oh, right," Beatrice said, pulling the ticket out and handing it to me. "Sorry."

Later that night before bed, I told Bryce that I loved her and was sorry I had gotten mad.

"I'm sorry you got mad at dad," I said.

"It's okay, Daddy. I know I get hangry." She giggled when she said it. "I'm sorry."

"I love you, Bryce."

"I love you, Daddy," she said, and gave me a kiss.

Damn, that was one expensive parking spot, I thought.

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