"I'm not joking!"
"Go to bed!"
"No, no, no, no!"
"Oi!" "What are you doing?"
Now where did The Kid and Boy2.0 learn those phrases that they love shouting at me? A moment of self-reflection revealed the answer immediately: me.
Whoever said that imitation is the ultimate form of flattery obviously didn't have mini-versions of himself shouting all the horrible stuff he says right back to him.
There is something particularly disconcerting seeing one of my sweet boys' faces twist up as he tries to replicate daddy's angry demeanor - it's a vile reflection of the worst parts of my personality.
To be fair, this verbal mirror also reflects the good stuff. These two can be so loving and caring ("I love you, Eli!" "You're my best friend, brudda!"), and yet, strangely, that doesn't feel like they're imitating me in those sweet moments.
My instinct says that they've learned that from their mom, or their teachers, or that they are just really great kids.
That is all true - but if I'm going to berate myself for every terrible thing that comes out of my boys' mouths, I should also be able to take a little bit of credit every time they are polite without asking.
So, dads, take a look at the lovely, fantastic and awesome parts of your kids and give yourself a mental high five for once! And then focus on working on not shouting so much...