I can, little one.
I can stand over you; a giant in comparison. I can intimidate and point my finger. I can yell as your little face twists and turns in fear and sadness. I can because I’m bigger.
I can let my anger get the best of me. I can hit when I’m frustrated; when you’re not listening. I can stand by the “do as I say, not as I do” mantra. I can wear it like a shield. I can tell you it’s not okay to hurt, and then I can hurt you to reinforce my lesson. I can because I’m stronger.
I can throw a tantrum and find that perfectly reasonable, but still not put up with yours. I can tell you to calm down and get a grip, even though it’s apparent that I’m not able to do that for myself. I can isolate you and tell you that you’re naughty. I can expect you to know how to gain control of your emotions, or at the very least suppress them. I can because I’m in charge.
I can leave you alone at night. I can let you cry yourself to sleep, secure in my reasoning that you need to learn to soothe yourself. I can ignore your stress and I can teach you to ignore your instincts, because that’s more convenient. I can shut the door and go cozy up to my partner. I can because I’m tired.
I can, little one. But I won’t.
I won’t abuse my size and power by making you fear me. I won’t inflict any emotional or physical pain on a child when it’s illegal for me to do it to an adult. I’m bigger, and that’s already an uneven advantage.
I won’t act hypocritically and expect your immature mind to “get” it. Setting respectful, firm boundaries takes more work, but I won’t settle for anything less than the long game. I’m stronger; it’s not a fair fight.
I won’t expect you to have the tools to regulate your reactions until I give them to you. Until I help you, and practice, practice, practice. I don’t expect you to learn anything else overnight, and this is no exception. I won’t be so unwilling to allow space for the negative emotions simply because they make me uncomfortable. I’m in charge; which means I’m also in charge of supporting you through all those big feelings.
I won’t crave closeness but deny you the same. I won’t believe the hype of the busy North American life that suggests that children are made manipulative, and need to be trained out of it. You need me, and I know it. I know that with proper support, you’ll develop your independence all on your own. I won’t force it. I’m tired, and so are you.
I might screw up sometimes though, kid. I’m only human and the pressure is great. I have learned habits and in times of stress I sometimes fall back into those ways. I can apologize. I can resolve to do better next time. I can come up with an action plan of how I’ll do exactly that. I can create a village and ask them to remind me. I can work everyday to make sure that I won’t be everything that works against our attachment. I can do those things, little one. And I will.