March 25, 2010

I may be a parenting disaster

Last week I went to my cousin's wedding and reception, where I was complimented by my aunt (whom I respect).  She said that she was so proud of what good parents my husband and I are, and that I should be on some reality show, to teach how to parent.  I laughed heartily, but it made me feel good to have a pat on the back.   In sharp contrast...


Today marks the worst tantrum I've seen from any of my 3 children yet (our youngest is only 2 months, so this may well be only a runner up in the future).  It all began with a boy who was denied finger nail clippers and a stressed mommy who was trying to get 2 kids to the doctor on time (for late immunizations, no less) and who refused to take him to the doc. screaming and kicking.  


I tried everything in my book of tricks to get him to stop crying, short of hitting him, (which doesn't mean I didn't feel like it).  I tried time-outs, I tried talking, I tried yelling, I tried talking-between-screams, I tried hugging, I tried threats to leave him with a neighbor while we all went to the doc without him (backfired, when I called, and my neighbor wasn't home).  I tried flicking his cheek,  I tried holding him tight so he wouldn't thrash, I tried kissing him, I tried getting down on his level, I tried distractions (food and movies- if he would calm down and apologize).  TO NO AVAIL.


In the end, I canceled the doctor's appt, took him up to his room (where he was safe), and shut him in until he could calm down and come out to be a good boy again.  Then I called my husband and bawled, and had a little time-out myself, all while my oldest and youngest played obliviously.  He wanted to help; I wished he could, and after 40 minutes or so, my boy calmed down.  I went into his room and asked if he was ready to stop crying and come out to be a good boy.  He said he was, and I gave him a hug.  He wanted more hugs, so we laid down on his bed and just hugged for 5 or 10 minutes - I was tempted to lecture him the whole time, but thought better of it, and just kept quiet.  On the way down stairs, we talked about how we couldn't go to the doctor now, and how momma was really sad that he had such a bad tantrum.  He nodded, and silently acknowledged what happened, and that was good enough for me at that point.


I think I've decided that moments such as this push us to and beyond our limits as parents.  We're shaken up, realize that we don't have total control (again), and that our kids sometimes require more than we've got.  Then we stretch, pray, and figure out a way around it.  This is the hardest job I can imagine for someone. Maybe the only thing harder would be single parenting.  


Here's a big hoo-rah [in that bassy Navy-veteran voice] for all the parents that have had equally or more challenging days than mine.  No, here's a hoo-rah for just not giving up on being a parent.


On a funny note, after all this was said and done, we were eating lunch, and my daughter was praying over the food.  She said "I need help," to which I thought, 'Amen, honey.  We all need help today'.  Then she paused and said "Momma, I need help,"  to which I kicked in and helped her finish her prayer.
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