Under The Light

In the big lead up to Thanksgiving, my son had Hand Foot and Mouth (HFaM). We didn’t have to make an extra trip to the doctor to confirm this. We were already headed in for one of the regular checkups and the doctor confirmed our fears.

HFaM is one of those awesome things like chicken pocks. Everyone warns you about how very contagious it is. They put the fear of death and suffering in you about how much worse it is for adults to live with than small children.

So we kept the kid home for a couple days and he had some extra one on one time with mommy and daddy and he was happy as could be. I am pretty sure I was more fearful of him having HFaM than I actually needed to be. The only signifier that he even had HFaM were some bumps here and there.

The hardest part of the whole thing was the day I had the pleasure of staying home with him. Part of my day was running a few errands in the car and he was strapped into his car seat. And as toddlers often do, he fell asleep in his car seat. he fell asleep early. So when we got home, I navigated him up to his room and put him to be for an early nap.

Then, I slipped out of his room to have my few minutes of peace and quiet while he napped.

And to guess I had a few minutes would be an overstatement. The kid woke up and started crying. So, I brought him to be with me and hang out while I worked on some odds and ends. And after a bit, it seemed like he was ready for a nap. A little lethargic and emotional.

Again, I whisked him off to his room. I rocked him till he was out cold. Then I rocked him some extra because I never feel like I get enough moments to cuddle my kid. Finally, I deftly transferred him to his crib. Like a ninja lowering the most fragile of eggs into the most dangerous of traps. I deposited him in his crib, slipped out of his room without a sound, and returned to the living room for a nap time reprieve.

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Not more than a few minutes later was my son crying.

I almost felt myself snap inside.

Then I thought to myself, “It will be fine, he will fall asleep, he needs to get some emotions out. Then he'll give in. It is nap time.

I thought wrong.

Very wrong.

And so, when my patience had run out and my last nerve was ground to dust underneath the grinding of his crying. (Which is one of the saddest things in the whole world to me.) I retrieved him again.

Now we are both tired. Emotional. Frustrated. And stuck with each other.

Me: Trying to breath through my anxiety and feelings of failure and absolute frustration because my son missed his nap.

Him: Not having the words, or mental abilities to express his toddler state.

The saving grace of the day was my wife, who was working a short day. Because most of corporate America works a short day the day before Thanksgiving. She came riding in on her white horse and helped manage him, so I could have thirty minutes to myself.

Not the sort of thirty minutes where I unplug and forget the world exists. But the sort of thirty minutes where I load the car, take out the trash, and prepare for holiday travel. (Which is akin to doomsday prepping.) I returned to my wife who has our son enraptured in his ten millionth reading of the riveting literary work of “Go Dogs, Go” by the esteemed PhD. Seuss.

We then load ourselves into the car and travel to the Thanksgiving festivities.

How do you process stress? How do you process unexpected pressure and anxiety? How do you work with other people who are not in the best emotional/mental/physical state? How can you plan to better work with stress and anxiety?

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Leadership Starts at Home

Ask my son to do something. Ask my son if he wants to do something. Ask my son if he will do something for you. I can fairly accurately guess, his answer will be, ‘No.’ Not because he is rude obstinate or being rebellious. His answer is no because he is two and that is what two year olds do.

On the other hand, if I tell my son what I am going to do and then start doing it, he will trip over himself to come join me. He will perform his fastest run-waddle possible to get over to me. He will help me, do it for me, do a part of it, or somehow be in the midst of the action of whatever I am doing.

As a parent, I get the opportunity to learn how to parent a toddler who wants to do what I am doing, not what I want him to do. Which means I am learning how to lead him.

I get to learn how to lead him and show him the right things to do. The simple mundane tasks of cleaning up the living room at the end of the night. or not throwing his fork across the dinner table. Then there are the complex tasks of voicing my emotions and helping him voice his emotions. When he is ramped up and he is losing his mind because he is upstairs and he wants to be downstairs.

At this stage, leading my son is more about modeling the right thing to do. Leading him is an invitation to do the right thing more than it is about telling him or asking him to do the right thing.

As you work with your team, friends, and family, how are you modeling the right things to do? How are they modeling for you the right thing to do? What do you do to invite them into the right thing to do? How do you respond when they invite you into the right thing to do?

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