Welcome to “Why I Yelled,” Fatherly’s ongoing series in which real dads discuss a time they lost their temper in front of their wife, their kids, their coworker — anyone, really — and why. The goal of this isn’t to examine the deeper meaning of screaming or come to any great conclusions. It’s about yelling and what really triggers it. Here, Edward, a 37-year-old father in Cincinnati, discusses how his little Picasso’s in-car artwork sent him over the edge.
So, how’d it all start?
I was picking up my 6-year-old-son in my first-ever brand new car. I had just bought it the night before — I was so proud to have finally been able to afford a brand new car. Since I was 16 I’d always had used cars and they always gave me problems. But, this was different. It was a fully loaded Nissan Altima with 36 miles on it. This was big for me. (laughs). But my son did something to it that really made me lose it.
Well, he was in the back seat by himself, having fun going through my laptop bag. He was just looking at everything inside, entertaining himself with the contents. I noticed that he was being quiet – a little too quiet for the collective good, really. Turned out he’d found a ballpoint pen and decide to decorate the inside door panel – genuine leather – with squiggly lines and smiley faces.
Are you normally a pretty chill guy?
I’m as easygoing as The Dalai Lama listening to Jack Johnson.
But this made you lose your cool?
I lost it, for sure. I yelled and yelled at my confused little guy until I was red-faced. Almost immediately, I realized how stupid it was of me to do that – he was just a toddler making art. That said, I looked up the best methods for removing ink from leather, and then made him stand there holding a rag on the offending areas for a while.
Was anyone else around when you flipped out?
It was just my son and I – that’s par for the course. But, after it happened, I reached out to my good pal – my consigliere, if you will – and vented. I needed to let go of the frustration, somewhere other than in front of my son.
I absolutely regretted the way I handled the situation. He had no idea what he was doing was wrong, or destructive. He was just drawing – just playing, like kids do. I had to stop and remind myself of that. I apologized that evening, during bath time. Bath time is always a huge part of our days together. It’s relaxing, and it’s a time when we can both slow down. Usually, he’ll recap his day for me, or tell me about the big things going on in his life. That night, I was feeling pretty crappy for yelling at someone who, honestly, just didn’t know any better. So, I apologized and explained why I lost my temper. I asked for his forgiveness, too. And, thankfully, he forgave me.