"Did you know that you have super powers?" I asked him, returning him to his bed for the fifth time that night.
"I do?" he sniffled.
I was desperate - after seeing almost every wee hour of the morning come and go as he'd enter my room and tell me he was scared.
Nothing was working. Prizes. Punishments.
I had nothing left in my back pocket of creative parenting strategies. Exhausted from arguing.
Ashamed from yelling.
"Yes, you were born with it," I said.
I combed the hair on the back of his head with my fingers and whispered, "It's your smile."
He turned towards me. Curious.
"When you were born the nurses came to me and they said 'Did you know that your son has super powers?'"
His eyes brightened.
"And I said 'Yes, I saw it the instant he was born.'"
I smiled and leaned in closer to his ear.
"When you smile, you make all the bad stuff go away."
The 2nd child that we thought we might not have.
He arrived quickly and easily on a snowy morning. He slept. And took bottles. And liked being held by other people than me.
He changed everything that I had known about parenting. In a good way.
But I'd since forgotten all that - easy baby now very challenging toddler.
"That's all I have to do?" he asked, forcing a grin over and over.
"It's all you ever have to do," I said, kissing him on the forehead.
He smiled at me as I walked out the door.
And I smiled back.
All the bad stuff gone.