Being Riley's parent means having a lot of canned conversations. It doesn't matter how many mornings I provide a full explanation of the reasons why he does in fact need to get dressed for school on schedule (as opposed to when- or if-ever the whim strikes him), he will try to have the very same argument again the next time he'd rather keep playing in his pajamas.
There are some conversations I'm so sick of repeating that they frustrate me in advance. One of these happens whenever I need him to lend his car booster seat for a smaller child. And we had to do that this morningwhen we were already running behind schedule and I'm already feeling frustrated because everything's taking too long. When he started in with his fully predictable surly response, I only had enough patience to respond to him with calm reason one time. Once is not enough, and so as his usual protocol dictates, he repeated himself slightly surlier. And that's when I switched over to shouting.
There's no good time to lose it at your kids, but there's probably no worse time than on the way to school. Way to start their day, hero. (And mine!)
I didn't deviate from the next line of the same old script, I just shouted it at him. Then I told him "I'm sorry I shouted. I was feeling frustrated."
He replied with "Of course you are."
I should have left that alone. But instead I said "Oh, so you're telling me that's predictable? When could you tell that I was about to get frustrated? Was it when you raised your voice complaining to me, is that what you expected to frustrate me?"
That's when I realized that my expectations had been unreasonable. I expected him to be gracious, or to come to acceptance, faster than usual, in direct contradiction of data from all the times we've already had the same conversation.
I have a really hard time reconciling this. I want to believe he's capable of learning more empathy and being more cooperative. Believing he'll always respond the same feels like I'm lowering my expectations and kind of giving up on him. But I really wasn't being fair.