I’m sorry, but sometimes reading a bunch of mini-articles and blogs on “positive parenting” techniques is just a bit too much for me. Like when Mr. Ornery has drawn his battle lines – he’s not going to kindergarten today; he’s not going to put his shoes on; he promises to take his seat belt off in the car. His arms are crossed. His brows are furrowed and the eyes narrow to slits. His feet are planted….without socks on yet – he refuses them too.
I look at him. I size up my worthy opponent. I conjure up all that I’ve read about being a “great parent.”
Okay – the kid is apparently experiencing some pretty intense emotions.
- Take some deep breaths and calm yourself.
- Label the emotions – “Wow, Mr. Ornery, it looks like you are feeling very angry about school today.”
- Provide support and love as “those big emotions can be scary.” I kneel beside him and extend my arms to offer a “supportive loving” hug. He shoves me off balance.
“Whatever!” I finally yell. I tuck the 47-pound obstinate soldier under my right arm, scoop up his shoes and backpack and coat with the left arm (we small wily moms have incredible strength) and march through the door graciously opened by our Thai guest (who must be thinking, “these American parents are nuts!!”). I toss him into the minivan and glare intently into his eyes ~ “GET your seatbelt ON NOW!!!! And I mean NOW!!”
Yep – “positive parenting” at its best. Did it – failed. Tried it – failed. Resorted to….Power.
I know – in the long-term, the physical power of picking up a kid is not going to get me anywhere (especially when he’s 100 pounds). But on Thursday it got us to school on time.
Mr. Ornery does not like his new kindergarten class. I understand that. I understand that this month of “change” in every single aspect of his life is a bit disruptive. I understand he’s stressed and expressing his inner turmoil through obstinate defiance. I understand his emotional woes.
I understand a lot.
“Get in the car now!!” is how all that soft stuff boiled down in the moment of confrontation.
I’m not a bad parent. I’m a stressed single working mother. I get three kids off to daycare and before-school YMCA care before many people finish their morning coffee (thank goodness for Keurigs at the office!). I’m trying to be sweet and sensitive and sometimes I am. Sometimes I’m a really super mom. Sometimes I’m not.
Do you know that if you meet your dear sweet baby on their first day of life…and stick beside them for 18 years, you’ll spend 6570 days together (give or take a few necessary “business trips” and “I just need to get away” trips!). That’s 6570 opportunities to completely mess up – but in reality, you’re more likely to have thousands of awesome days, thousands of “pretty good” days…. and just a few “that was really truly awful” days.
So on those downright no good truly awful horrible days (like when I’ve threatened to return the dog to the pound, have grounded the boys for the next 5872 days, or carried a flailing screeching kindergartener out of a birthday party at the bowling alley)…. I just tuck those little ones in at night with a kiss and an I-love-you and remember – tomorrow is a new day. And it’s likely to be an awesome day. Day number 3184, day 2173, and day 1379, respectively…to be precise.
I love reading your posts. I laughed because your standoff is pretty much most mornings and dinners with my boy. And I think to myself, goodness, I only spend a few hours with my kids a day. Yet so much of it is spent at a standoff (at least with my boy).
I think these kids will all be fine in the long run. My patience for empathy with them runs pretty thin these days. =)
I tell you – it’s hard to have patience every….single….day! I think one out of 5 ought to be good enough 🙂 Thanks for reading!
I’m afraid the warm fuzzies of motherhood that one reads about are more hindsight than living in the present. Hope tomorrow is better.
Isn’t that the truth?! It always seems so much “easier” in hindsight. Thank you.