Have you ever had that moment when you feel like the worst mother in the world? I am sure that you have! You tell yourself that you are doing the right thing. That you are teaching them how to behave in the world. But when all is said and done you feel horrible! Well today was that day for me, and believe it was not the first time, but this is the first time when I feel like I have crossed the line. My daughter is turning 4 in about a week but she already acts like she is 8. She has the attitude, the swagger and the brains. She is ridiculously smart. Yes, she is my daughter and I am supposed to think that but many people tell that she is way ahead of her years. I am the mom and does homework with her every night, even when school does not send any home. I turn everything into a teachable moment and when she asks a question I give her a real and honest answer. She asked me why it rains. So I googled it and we talked about how the weather works. She told me she was disappointed that she couldn’t read so I began working with her every night to learn her letters, sounds and sight words. I struggled a great deal in school and I don’t want that for her. So I began with her at a young age. People think I am crazy, my Aunt thinks that I am doing too much. When she gets upset we sit and talk about it. We talk about what happened, how she is feeling, why she feels that way and what we can do to feel better. I am doing my best to raise a well rounded child. I set limits, I say no and I don’t treat her as my friend. Most of the time things go well. Not perfect but for the most part there is little yelling and just a few tears. But then, there are the days when nothing works. No amount of talking, calming, soothing, reasoning, explaining, or yelling (from her or me) works.
Today, we went to the mall because it has gotten cold and they have an indoor kid’s play area that she loves. She was hogging on of the activities so I told her needed to get down and share with the other children. She did not want to so her father went to talk to her about it and she MELTED DOWN! Right in the middle of the play area, screaming, crying, hyperventilating and anything else you can imagine. Now I know that when a kid acting like that you need to give them a minute to process and calm down. You need to let them work through it on their own because the are in no condition to understand anything you are going to say to them. But that is exactly when all the dirty looks come from the other parents, and the stares and the shaming and the shaking of heads. So I try to reason with her and I try to calm her down which just makes it worse. Her father then spanks her bottom, just 1x to snap her out of it, and we get even more looks. (I am not looking for an argument on spanking vs not spanking.) She finally calms down and we leave to finish the things we need to do the rest of the day. However, we did tell her that she lost her screen time for the rest of the day, no TV and no tablet.
Cut to this evening. My MIL now lives in Georgia (we are in New Jersey) and has to Skype with us to see her granddaughter. Well, we apparently interrupted Fi during her “play time” when Fi is the one that asked to call her. She got an attitude with me and so her father put her in time out and I hung up the call. She MELTED DOWN AGAIN! Just like in the mall but this time add in kicking the floor and throwing her toys. It was insane. I screamed “No!” louder than I think I ever have before but this went on for about 15 minutes. Finally, she calmed down and we talked about what happened and why she didn’t listen and why she gave me attitude. We took showers and got ready for bed.
Normally, she has a story and a song every night before bed. She had already lost her screen time and her father decided that her further behavior warranted no story. So we told her no story and had a conversation about why she was losing her story. I explained how important it is to listen to us when we ask her to do something, tell her to stop doing something or reprimand her. I explained that she lost her story because she didn’t listen but she could still have her song but we needed to get ready for bed. Instead of getting ready for bed she proceeded to play with a balloon animal balloon and refused to put it away. I asked her 3 times and told her that play time was over and it was time for bed. She responded with, “No it is not over and it is not time for bed!” This is where is lost it. I took the balloon and popped it right in front of her. In that moment I heard her heart break and my anxiety skyrocket. I heard my inner voice say, “I CANNOT believe you just did that! You crushed her soul!” I walked out of the room and into the living room and sobbed. I felt like the worst mother in the world. After a few minutes in her room she came out still sobbing. She came to me to cuddle and repeated over and over, “I want a noodle balloon! I won’t have one for tomorrow! How can I get another one? I don’t have another one!” Which just made me feel worse. After she finally calmed down enough for us to talk, her father asked her if she learned her lesson. She said, “Yes, I need to listen better.” Then she looked me dead in the eye and said, “Did you learn your lesson?” I replied, “I didn’t need to learn a lesson.” She then said, “Yes you did. You need to learn not to pop balloons when we can’t get another one!” It was so hard to hold back the tears because I did not want her to see me crying. We all calmed down and she got into bed, sang her song with dad and went to bed.
I feel like I crossed a line popping that balloon. I feel like I could have done better, chosen a different response, just taken it away and hid it but I didn’t! I popped it right in front of her and now she cannot get it back later when she is better behaved. My husband agreed with what I did. He told me that if I hadn’t done it he was going to but my husband is a little bit cold-hearted. He wanted to break the tablet in half that my mother bought her for her birthday last year but I wouldn’t let him. I just wish there was a way to know if you are doing the right thing! A way to know if you are being a good parent and raising them well. Sadly, there isn’t so I guess I will just have to wait and see what happens when she becomes an adult is out in the world on her own. I guess I just have to pray for the best!