You've known your son for more than nine (long) years. You sat in the labor and delivery waiting room for the 48 hours he had to stay for observation just so that you could feed him every four hours. You rocked and patted and cried for the first 18 hours he was home and you couldn't get him to sleep. You rubbed his little over-cooked body with baby oil three times per day until all gray, peeling skin sloughed off and he was the pink cherub you expected.
And those were just the first three days. In the years that have passed since those first parenthood moments, you've learned every square inch of this child. You know he prefers blue to green and red to blue. You know he'll eat a cheese stick but only if you take a bite first. You know the only way to convince him to do anything quickly is to time him because doing it even a second faster than last time is all the motivation he needs. You know you'll have to hold his hand and hug him against you before enters any new situation for the first time. You know to hang back, but stay within view, until he flashes you the thumbs up that is the unspoken signal that you are allowed to leave.
You know he likes to sleep in long sleeves and pants. You know he loves being the first person up in the morning and hopes to one day be the last one in the bed at night. You know he hates wearing shorts but loves a colorful "sleeveless" shirt that you must never call a tank top. You know he would pay cash money to sleep in the bed between you and his dad every night and that sometimes he truly wishes he was an only child.
You know him through and through. So why didn't you know he'd have a meltdown at the orthodontist's office? Why didn't you plan for it as painstakingly and thoroughly as you do every doctor's appointment? Why did you ask him to do his homework in the waiting room, push him to focus on the pages rather than the children playing around him, nudge for him to go back with the assistant alone when the time came for impressions?
You knew better. At each and every step, you felt him spiraling further out of control. The tooth sucking and lip smacking, the eye rolling, the jerking away, the sudden flare of frustration disguised as anger. You saw it all and yet you tried to take the "easy" way out. You wanted to sit quietly and read your book. You wanted to take a mental break from adult stuff that he can't begin to understand and in doing so, you pushed your son off the figurative cliff.
And meltdown he did. Full on storming off into the parking lot right as it was time to speak to the orthodontist, stomping and jerking when you forced him back into the building, talking back and arguing during the sit-down, anger anger anger. So much anger that the orthodontist asked if perhaps you should come back alone. So much negative emotion that it stained the entire evening and left him crying and disappointed by bedtime, and your mental health was hanging on by a string.
I'm writing you this note to remind you that you knew all along and you chose the wrong path. Let's make that the last time, okay? It wasn't worth it and you both suffered. But today's a new day. Grab onto it and make it count for both of you. But before you do anything else, tell that boy you're sorry and that you'll do it better next time.