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My Husband Teases My Son and It Drives Me Crazy

Photograph by Twenty20

I can hear the screams.

"NOOO!!" is what I most typically hear. My husband is pushing my son's buttons again. I can guarantee you it's over one of two things: either Steve has teased Paul in a completely absurd way that Paul finds intolerable ("Paul, you're a turtle head." "NOOO!!") or he's tired of Paul messing around and is threatening him with a completely absurd punishment ("Paul, if you don't put your shoes on I'm going to wear them myself!" "NOOO!!")

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This yelling is Steve's punishment for trying to mess around with our son, or for trying a creative way to get him to do what we need him to do. But in the end, Paul just howls, which often just makes Steve tease him more. It's all very loud. Very, very loud.

To be honest, I get it. Our son's lack of a sense of humor is insane. He can be funny and silly but only when he wants to. Oherwise there's a another tiny psychodrama when he yells "That's not funny!" and we laugh more and, then, you guessed it, "NOOO!!" A touchy kid is the punishment that two humorist parents deserve.

So while I understand the temptation to troll Paul, the noise that results keeps me from doing it. So why is my husband so immune to a three-year-old's mini meltdown? The situation makes me think back to Paul's newborn days, when I leapt to shut off his cries whereas Steve could take his time getting Paul's bottle made and say "Okay, okay, settle down."

It wasn't so much that I felt sad for the kid—something about his noises just set off something in my brain. It was like hearing a fire alarm. I

It wasn't so much that I felt sad for the kid—something about his noises just set off something in my brain. It was like hearing a fire alarm. It has to shut off, right? It continues to this day, only instead of a newborn wailing, the sound of an teasing-induced toddler tantrum sets me on edge, even if I'm not even in the same room. I just want to run over and turn it off.

I wondered if this was a dynamic specific to my house, but after complaining about it on Facebook, I discovered that many a wife rolls her eyes when her husband riles up the kids (particularly, based on my anecdotal evidence, boys.) Maybe it's a bit of old-fashioned wolf-pack alpha dog stuff, but despite its annoying side, the teasing is actually good parenting. Studies have shown that when dads rile up their kids, as annoying as it can be for us other parents who just want some peace and quiet, it teaches children confidence and promotes bonding.

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Of course, this is no secret to me. I know my husband is a great dad and my kid thrives under the different types of attention he gets from both of us. And he really does need to work on developing a thicker skin (right now what works is me feeding Paul "comebacks" to throw back at Steve. Going "You yo-yo!" is a big one right now.) I know my husband's greatest success is when he can get our boy to stop crying and start laughing. I just need to figure out how to get over being so quickly annoyed by my boys' noisy dynamic.

Maybe I need to change my biology—or maybe I just need to buy some earplugs.

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