Bad Cop, Bad Cop

In a few years, Janelle and I may be Good Cop, Bad Cop. I’ll probably end up being Bad Cop, because I’ll probably be the loudest yeller if only by virtue of having more lung capacity. But all that will come to pass when Joshua is old enough to get into actual trouble for things he has willfully done wrong. What’s that? You don’t plan to ever yell at your child? You must tell me what it’s like in Narnia.

For now at least, there is no Good Cop. Only Zuul Bad.

Making your baby endure things that he does not want to is just one of those things that you have to do that parenting books don’t cover or prepare you for. So, let me do that now: You will be making your baby do things he does not want to do. There will be tears, and you have to put on your Daddy Pants (from the makers of Mom Jeans) and deal with it. It will be difficult to harden yourself to these scenarios, too, because as your baby ages there will be new and more heartbreaking ways he will protest against your ruthless tyranny.

When Joshua was very young, there would just be crying. As he’s gotten older he’s introduced flailing, arching, rolling, kicking, slapping, yelling, crying “Mommee! Daddee! NOOOOO” and all of the above along with a pleading “All done! All done! All done!” tacked on for good measure. It’s just like every movie you’ve ever seen with orderlies escorting a tortured patient into the high security psych ward. You’ll have to be trying to restrain and guide a little person now singularly focused on defying you and try to prevent him from hurting himself, which will almost certainly guarantee that at some point, you’ll accidentally hurt him.

Janelle and I recently had a rough time of things as over the last few weeks Joshua entered into, at the same time, a period of separation anxiety and a really legendary case of diaper rash. Also working against us; he’s getting smarter, and knows when certain things he dislikes are approaching. Diaper changes became a two-person assault. The crying would begin at the bottom of the stairs and get frantic once the diaper table was reached. He’d fight clothes being removed, he’d fight the diaper being removed, he’d fight his legs being raised in the air, and—because of the diaper rash—he would go ballistic once the diaper wipes touched his skin. It’s heartbreaking to do, but you don’t have a choice to be a softie on things like this as a parent. “Oh, okay, pookie. You can run around with a poop-butt for another couple hours until you fall asleep. It’s okay if the skin on your ass gets so irritated that it cracks and bleeds and we just let poop get all up in those wounds. Have some candy.”

Nope. You have to make that baby cry and get the job done.

Diaper changes are probably the most typical thing that you can expect will be upsetting to your baby. But other popular options will include bath time, bed time and car-seat time. These aren’t things you can avoid. You need to put your baby to bed, you need to clean him, and he will need to leave the house with you from time to time. You will need to make him upset and you will need to get the job done.

This paints a sort of grim picture of parenting when the reality is that these moments are only a very small portion of your day. Add them all up and they’re not going to reach an hour and unless your child is in a very particular phase they probably will seem totally fine almost immediately after the hated action is complete. These moments are just part of what will stick out in your mind because they are action packed. Your heart will race, your hands will be frantically trying to contain your baby and accomplish your task, all to a soundtrack of shrieks.

Thankfully, take solace that your baby doesn’t hold it against you, at least not yet. You may be Bad Cop for diaper change, but you’re also that magic person that knows how to do everything that is the FUNNEST. You play the peek-a-boo, you do the wrestling and the tummy raspberries. You get the food and read the bedtime stories. You light up his face when you enter the room.

So you may be Bad Cop, but it’s just a part-time gig.

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  1. #1 by Júlli on November 14, 2011 - 5:52 AM

    I’ve often found that a soft spoken word of affection, after Emil has calmed down does a lot to wipe away the shock of “daddy bad cop”.

    Bu yeah, being a bad cop blows.

  2. #2 by Oliver on November 14, 2011 - 4:29 PM

    I feel like I should probably bookmark this post for a few years’ time.

    I’d also like to propose an additional title for this post: “Daddy’s only hurting you because he loves you.” 😉

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