No one’s ever described me as “edgy”, or menacing. Most of the time I bumble around being the court jester. I dance about singing silly songs, do prat-falls, hit myself with things, impersonate animals, generally be foolish, like a very poor man’s Mr. Tumble.
This is fine when the children are in a kind mood. But they can turn, and when they do they are utterly merciless. When this happens, you need something in reserve. You need a secret weapon.
“I need the telly on.” He doesn’t say ‘I would like’ or even ‘I want’. His technique is far more disconcerting than that. “I need the telly on, Daddy” he repeats before I’ve even decided what my response should be. Fatefully, I decide that we should have some telly free time.
He doesn’t agree with me. “I need the telly on”. He uses these words like artillery shells, “I need the telly on”, pounding my position relentlessly. It doesn’t take long before I give up trying to “I need the telly on”, reason with him and simply bat away his “I need the telly on” attacks with the word “No.”. Good old, reliable “No.”
He doesn’t give up. The “I need the telly on” repetition chisels away at you. You can’t “I need the telly on” think. You can’t do anything. Soon you’re “I need the telly on” ready to crack. You have only one option left. “I need the telly on”. You have to drop the authority bomb. It’s a devastating weapon. I pause, charging up my authority capacitors for one devastating blast.
“I said… NO!” My voice fills the room with a rumbling boom of holy thunder. Nothing can withstand the authority bomb. Small birds outside stop singing and drop from their perches, frozen in terror.
My son looks at me, open mouthed. My heart quivers. I start to worry I’ve traumatised him.
“Daddy?” He begins slowly.
“I said… I need the telly on.”