Saturday, February 21, 2009

Adults have tantrums too

Yeah so that cliche statement that hindsight is 20/20, I really hate cliche statements. Especially when they are true.  

I've been reading two books: 1-2-3 Magic and Scream Free Parenting in the hopes to make life easier with a two year old and one on the way.  By easier, I mean having him obey mommy (the #1 rule is our household).  This task has proved to be harder than expected and therefore turned to outside help.  Even with these experts advice I still find myself struggling in the never ending war over power with my son.

Looking back on it I realize I should have handled the situation differently and with a bit more maturity.  My lame excuse?  I'm 6 months pregnant, running on limited to no sleep and stressed out beyond belief.  I tend to run on a shorter fuse since becoming a parent and choosing to stay-at-home.  Mason, having entered into the infamous terrible twos, is gaining expertise in his skill of testing and trying my patience.   This is also known as my anger switch. The books made discipline seem simple and easy to execute and taking what I'd learned and applying it to my life was going well.  I hadn't screamed or yelled at my son in utter frustration in a few days.  Progress was being made, well that was until today.  

It started off as one of those days.  Up all night because my son had been crying every few hours forcing me to get out of bed to put him back in his and assure him for the 10th time the wind would not hurt him, he was safe.   When 7am arrived much too early and the first thing I did after making it downstairs was to make myself a cup of caffeine filled coffee.  

Feeling more energized it came time to do some grocery shopping so I packed Mason and my reusable shopping bags into the car and headed off.  After a smooth in and out with everything on my list I let Mason watch some Backyardigans in the car while I quickly put away what had been bought so we wouldn't be late for his hair cut.   Being the angel that deep down I truly know he is, Mason sat perfectly still while Holly cut his much needed mop of hair.  It helped that I remembered I had an iphone fully equipped with video capabilities and episodes of Thomas and his all time fave movie, Cars downloaded to it.   Holly was therefore able to get a more thorough, shorter cut.  When finished I stood facing Mason, a little twinge in my heart, and wondered where my baby had gone.  Before me stood this handsome more grown up little boy.  As a reward he got his cookie that he'd been asking for all week and proceeded to proudly eat it, savoring each bite with an enthusiastic "hmmmm."  All of this put me in a good mood, so I gave Mason his choice for lunch.  He, of course, chose McDonalds.  More for the playground than the food and even though I had told him that last time we were there that we would not be returning due to his refusal to listen to mommy and daddy when we said it was time to stop playing, I was feeling optimistic and agreed.  

Mason's behavior only increased with goodness as he willingly ate all four of his nuggets from the happy meal and sat on the potty before going to play.   I'd periodically wave to him as he peered out the windows and kept my ears open for calls of distress.   He was having such fun climbing up the layered landings, crawling through the tunnels and down the slide.  Over and over, each time exclaiming with pride, "I did it!" 

I'm not sure exactly when or what triggered my emotions first.  It could have been the other five kids running and screaming so loud, not listening to their parents pleas to behave or the parents who just didn't care that their offspring were breaking every rule clearly posted on the big yellow sign while simultaneously trying to boss around those younger than themselves.   (It is a huge pet peeve of mine that parents use the playground as a babysitter rather than actually paying attention their children and properly "parenting" them).  Or maybe it was just the simple fact that I get irritated with surprising ease at the most trivial things.  Either way, I am not entirely proud of the following scene I displayed.  

Writing in my little notebook that I always carry in my diaper bag for those moments I don't want to forget I hear a familiar voice calling for Mommy.  Looking up I see that my brilliantly skilled son has managed to get to the very top landing, laying on his stomach and frantic that he cannot get back down.  Now this is not the first time he has put himself in this exact predicament and not he first time I am being faced with the task of having to retrieve him.  My first thoughts are of frustration,  "Why the hell did he climb up there again when he knows he can't climb down?!  No way am I doing up after him this time."  But on the outside I remain calm and attempt to coax him down on his own, encouraging him that he is very capable of doing this.  

"Just swing your legs over the edge, that's it, see you are almost touching the bottom.  Now just slide down a little more.  Yes you can Mason."

After five minutes of this my patience is wearing thin, I desperately do not want to climb up there.  I am 6 months pregnant after all and clearly the space was not meant for, nor built for adult use.  Especially the adult with the protruding belly, back pain and cramping.   I change my tactic thinking I will get better results.  I threaten that we will never come back here if I have to come up there to get him.  More attempts but nothing.  The drop is really not that far and he is really so close to doing it on his own I keep hoping he will just trust me and let go but he doesn't.  Now I am getting angry, I start to question him as to why he got up there if he can't come down, he knows he can't do it from the last time he tried.  This is unacceptable.  Now I am back to encouraging him and now switching to threats again.  It is clear he isn't coming down and I finally give up, now really pissed off that I have to maneuver my ever expanding belly in ways I didn't think I could, to retrieve my son who no longer seems distressed.  Reaching the top I grab him by the arms and yank him down.  Now sitting there I make him look at me and angrily lecture him about his behavior.  I then drag him down the rest of the way and march him to our table where I proceed to put on his shoes, still lecturing him that if he had only listened to me, but now we are not only leaving, we are never coming back here (and I am promising myself to keep this threat this time).  He is starting to get up set and cry and I am just trying hard to get out of there as fast as possible.  Once in the car, Mason in full force crying mode,  I continue to yell at him telling him he has hurt me and possibly Baby Sophie and does he understand.  He stops crying and says yes.  But I know he doesn't.  He starts to whine about wanting to go home but I had errands I wanted to run and I am not going to let him ruin the rest of my plans so I ignore him saying that he better stay quiet if he doesn't want me to pull this car over for a time out.   He starts to quiet and as I look in the kiddie mirror I see that he has fallen asleep.  Looking at the time, 2pm, I realize it is his nap time and could have partly attributed to his actions.  

Now that it is all over, I take a few deep breaths and come to the conclusion that I handled it all wrong.  I forgot the no-talking, no emotion rule.  Even more,  I treated Mason as though he was a little adult which is clearly not what to do as stated in chapter 3 of 1-2-3 magic.  But my worst offense was losing my temper.  Okay, Okay, I'll admit it.  I HAD A TEMPER TANTRUM.  There it is.  I said it, it's out.   I should have calmly rescued him and then proceeded to show him how to get down on his own.  I should have sat him at our table for a few minutes for a time out without talking to him or about the situation, then headed to the car.  But as I stated earlier hindsight is 20/20.  You always know what to do after you have done what you shouldn't.  Now more than ever it has been made so clear to me that parents and adults alike can have tantrums just as much as children.  It seems funny but I never thought that I would have to get a check on my own emotional responses once becoming a parent.  In other words,  I never thought I'd have some more growing up to do after reaching adulthood.  

Parenting is not about kids, it's about parents.  

Adding this to my list of imperfections and moving on.  At least I didn't hit or physically harm my child.  Besides we made up, I bought him a Thomas book while at the bookstore and he seems to not have held a grudge.  Today he is wanting mommy and not daddy.   I realize Mason will be Mason, and he will struggle through lessons as he grows up too.  No sense to dwell on the past.  What I need is to focus on the future and what I can change; myself.       
Pin It

No comments:

Post a Comment