Noodle this

Is this the right path?

A meltdown of epic proportions at dinner tonight. The middle child spilled his milk because he was concentrating on the TV. Overflowed and milk everywhere.

I give him the, “you spilled it, you clean it up.” His head snaps back, tears well up in his eyes, his cry of anguish fills every nook and cranny of our house. My heart races and I scold him for not taking responsibility. I’m looking to put my foot down. He’s putting down his. Stalemate.

My wife and I argue with him between sobs that he can continue balling or take 5 seconds to clean up his mess. He finally comes around vigorously wipes the table. Too vigorously. Tiny bits of yaki-soba go flying off the table. Milk clean, floor dirty. Not even dirty, really, just a piece or two of a noodle on the ground. But the gauntlet has been thrown. He’s not budging.

“Alexa, 5 min timer.” Panic in his eyes.

4 min. More sobbing.

3 min. More sobbing.

2 min. More sobbing.

1 min. You’d think Ethan Hunt just appeared. My son is dangling off his chair, arms stretched, grasping for that piece of noodle. And at all costs, not touching the floor. My wife and I steal glances at each other and do our best to suppress our smiles. It’s just too much.

20 sec. He’s landed on the floor. Fingertips on the noodle piece.

10 sec. Legs and arms flailing. Body and soul desperate to discover why this universe is so cruel.

0 sec. I pick him up, carry him upstairs to bed, and listen to his cries. “Uno”, “Uuuunooo”, “Uuuunnnooo”. He wanted to play just before going to bed.

I do my best to listen to what the issue was. He didn’t want to move. He doesn’t want to give in, be bossed around? His brother even offered help and he refused, it had to be me to help him. I listen more and we come up with a plan. I tell him when he feels like this again, he can ask for a hug from me and I’ll charge him up. He promises he’ll reach out the next time.

As we head back downstairs for a quick game of Uno, he puts the piece of noodle into the garbage can.

I breathe out. Breath in. Life goes on.