Of course, they can be annoying. Painfully so.
They scream in your ears. They ruin your clothes with their food and dirt-covered hands. They can cut off your air supply as they crawl onto your back for a piggyback ride.
Yet you have to absorb this. You can’t thrust them away. Even though it hurts. Even though you love this shirt. Even though you can’t breathe.
Yes, of course, you have to explain to them what’s appropriate and what isn’t. Yes, you have to protect your own well being. But the point is, they have no idea yet how their actions affect other people. Even teenagers don’t fully comprehend the concept of consequences, of cause and effect. What they do comprehend is you getting upset, you pulling away. They can feel your energy changing, even if they can’t put words to what it is they are sensing or how that makes them feel. And what’s most difficult about all this, as we’ve said before, is that it very well might be this painful, confusing feeling—as provoked and instinctual as it is—that sticks with them forever.
So work on getting control of yourself. Work on toughening yourself up a bit. You can gently unwrap their arms from your throat. You can get a new shirt. You can turn the game around and chase them instead.
You can make what was annoying become fun. You can turn the pain into a moment of profound connection. That’s entirely up to you. That’s fully within your control. What’s more, it’s your job as a good dad trying to raise happy kids.