I’m a mean dad

Every night before bedtime, we read stories to Liam. Many nights, Liam will then take a book into bed with him to “read” (in quotes because 1, he’s not really literate yet and 2, the lights are off so it would be hard to read anyway – this worked better for him in the summer) – often times we’d hear him reciting the stories, talking to the characters in pictures, etc.

He additionally likes to choose a different book to read in the morning – the idea being that he’ll bring the book with him into our bed in the morning, and we’ll lounge around and read together. This is awesome, fantastic family time on the weekend – it’s less good during the week for obvious reasons, but whenever I can, I’ll read at least one book in the morning to him because hey, books!

And I realize none of the above make me seem terribly mean. But it is back-story for what happened tonight: I put Liam to bed, and read him stories. He wanted to read the transformers book. Now, despite being a transformers fan myself, I loathe this book. It’s this bizarre “Transformers Annual”, from England from the 80’s when I was a kid with a mix of comics, short stories and “factsheets” in a hardcover.  But I told him to choose a different book because I didn’t want to read it. Which made him sad, but an animated telling of the Sneetches made that all better. So at 8, I turned off the light, went into the office to start working. I can hear him talking to himself next door for a while, and then it goes quiet.

At 9:30, I’ve gone downstairs to watch some TV when all of a sudden I hear him on the stairs. He looks up at me, smiling sweetly and says “I need my transformers book to read in the morning and I can’t find it. Can you help me find my transformers book?” And this is the mean part. I told him quite sternly that it was very late, and he had to get back to bed and not only would I not help him find his book I didn’t want to hear him out of his bed again unless it was to go to the bathroom. The lips quivered, they trembled, his eyes welled up and there were tears. Poor, disappointed, sleepy little boy. He wasn’t quite crying, but close. And while every bit of me wanted to make it all right, I decided to just march him back to bed, say “see you in the morning” and close his door. But now I just feel mean. I know exactly where the transformers book is, and could have given it to him in seconds. But he shouldn’t be up so late. But it’s just a book. And so on. Oh guilt, you are a cruel mistress.