I hate when I’m mean to one of my kids.
I didn’t do something awful – like tell them Barbie dolls come alive at night to nip at their heels while they sleep. Even typing that makes me a little frightened to close my eyes tonight.
But I was not nice.
We were late for school. After we parked, I told Dylan to grab her backpack out of the car and then I, along with Dylan, Summer and the twins made our way to the building. In case you need a visual, I am holding Chase, pushing Harlowe in the Snap and Go stroller (because she’s still in the infant seat) and shepherding Dylan and Summer.
Half way there I notice that Dylan does not have her backpack. So I start yelling about HOW SHE DOES NOT LISTEN.
I give her the keys and watch her run back to where we parked.
She tries to locate the car but she can’t find it. She can’t tell apart six almost identical minivans? What is wrong with that girl?!
As Dylan heads back to me and only a few feet away, I see her run across the street outside of the cross walk. Now I’m exploding because my mother was almost killed crossing the street. I shout out, “YOU MUST CROSS IN THE CROSS WALK. DRIVERS CAN’T SEE YOU!!!” I’m yelling at her but really I’m angry at myself because I let her cross alone.
So now I cart Dylan, Summer and the babies all back to the minivan to get the backpack. And I tell her… “YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR BACKPACK. YOU NEED TO PUT IT IN THE CAR. AND TAKE IT OUT OF THE CAR. AND IF YOU DON’T – YOU WON’T HAVE SNACK. YOU WON’T HAVE LUNCH. AND YOU WILL BE VERY HUNGRY AND SAD.”
And Dylan responds, “Well, when kids forget their lunch, the teacher makes sure they get one. They aren’t hungry.”
“Well, that’s good,” I mutter, thinking how kind and patient Dylan’s teacher is while I’m currently some sort of sweaty, food depriving lunatic. I give Dylan a kiss and watch her run into school.
I will apologize later. I did not handle the situation with calmness.
But a part of me feels like apologizing isn’t enough because it’s my role as a parent to teach my kids how to handle stressful situations with grace. At least most of the time.
I recently read in Amy Wilson’s book “When Did I Get Like This?” the following quote… “I realized that saying you’re sorry for having been a jerk is not really as powerful an example for your children as not having been a jerk in the first place.”
So this morning when Dylan and Summer were supposed to be getting dressed but instead SCREAMING at each over the definition of tennis socks (Specifically, is any ankle length sock a tennis sock or does it have to be a certain thickness?!), I suppressed the deep desire to scream, “STOP FIGHTING RIGHT NOW! GET DRESSED. YOU DON’T EVEN PLAY TENNIS!!!!”
Instead, I opened the bathroom door in my towel, asked the girls to stop yelling, examined the disputed socks, declared that they certainly could be called tennis socks although no one needs to actually partake in the sport of tennis to wear them and then sent the girls off to get dressed.
No mean mom anywhere.
Now only 12 more hours until bedtime to display grace, calmness and kindness.