These are letters to Jack, my son, and my daughter, Audrey. You have given me the gift of motherhood. This is just a little gift back. I want to share my experiences with you of your childhood from my perspective of watching you grow - of being your Mom.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Overall, I'd say that you and I have a good relationship - we communicate well and I think you "get" my parenting style - when I'm going to let something slide and when you better listen to me.
Last night was a cultural heritage night at your school. It kind of took me by surprise because I somehow missed all the announcements until yesterday morning. So I flew around at lunch yesterday, locating some loaves of Irish Soda Bread and marmalade which I was proud of getting and thus was prepared with contribution and all - even in spite of my disorganization. SCORE!!!
I don't really know what set the evening off, but I was late getting you. I arrived right at 6 because I had to get your sister, breastfeed her in private so I wouldn't be pulling one out in the middle of the school, and let the dogs out. Thus, I was late getting you. You were in a different room (this might have started things off - change is very anxiety producing for you) and you were watching a movie (which you never do at this school). Your eyes were big when I came to get you and you seemed really surprised with where you were and what was going on.
The night was really such a cute idea. Each room represented a specific country - a country that they had been learning about for the past month and done many projects on. Now tonight, all the projects and things you learned were on display in each room and the children were given "Passports" so you would go from room to room and learn about that country and get a stamp on your passport before going to the next country.
Everything fell apart in Africa. :)
You wanted to make a mask, but they were out of the paper plates needed to make one. You started to cry and were unconsolable. Over the course of the next five minutes of me trying to explain and turn this around, the crying turned into yelling that you wanted to make a MASK!
I had already explained that the plates were gone like a thousand times so I decided to try to ignore it and see if that worked, but you followed along after me screaming about wanting to make the mask, over and over again. I - with carefully controlled patience - would explain here and there about the plates being out. That we would make one later at home because we have plates at home and it would be fun.
More screaming and crying and yelling.
Now we are in line for food and parents are trying to get me to go in front of them because I so obviously have my hands full with you. You are now yelling about how you DON'T WANT THAT TO EAT, YOU WANT THAT!, DON'T LET AUDREY EAT THAT, and on and on and on.
I had to get out of line after a while because this was not working. I turned to find a place to sit and read on some parents faces "Oh, please don't sit with us" which I understood so I found a place for us to sit on the back wall on a couple of folding chairs. You followed after me with a purplish-red face, sobbing and yelling about how you wanted to sit at a table!!! I explained that we were NOT going to sit at a table and ruin anyone else's night with our screaming. You fell apart even further. You grabbed my fork when I tried to eat, you screamed and yelled. Finally, one of your friends and their family tried to join us - I think they wanted to see if they could help me. I politely explained that I didn't know what was happening but we were going to leave. You started in with more shrieking and crying that you DIDN'T WANT TO LEAVE!! NOOOOOOO!!!
There was a speaker that you were louder than so we exited the auditorium loudly - your cries carried up and down the empty halls as you screamed and sobbed about leaving the party, et al.
In the van, you started to settle down. You were still crying and whining, but I could talk to you now. I told you that we were going to have to think of a big punishment for you because your behavior had been completely unacceptable.
You got quiet and asked what the punishment would be. I told you I thought for the next 2 days, you couldn't use the computer or watch any TV. You were horrified about this, but I'm not sure you entirely believed me.
When we got home, I told you I would fix you a simple sandwich and carrot sticks but that was all, you would play quietly and then it was bedtime. While you ate, we talked about what had happened that night. I brought to your attention that other children after you had also not been able to make masks tonight and then I asked you if you had noticed any other children behaving the way that you had. You said that you hadn't. I told you that I wasn't very proud of your behavior and I was disappointed that the night had turned out like it had. You took this very hard. I asked you if YOU were proud of how you behaved. What you would have thought if one of your friends had done that. You said you weren't proud of it.
You kept asking me the rest of the night to be happy with you. It would have been easier to relent, but I wasn't going for easy. I explained to you that I LOVED you - that I would ALWAYS love you, no matter what. But that I wasn't happy with you at all right now. I said that I wasn't proud of how you behaved and when I'm not proud of your behavior, I'm not very happy with you right now.
It was important to me that you understood that I loved you always, but I couldn't brush aside what had happened or you wouldn't learn anything from it. Therefore, for the rest of the night when you asked if I was happy with you, I said "I love you very much, Jack, but I'm not very happy with your behavior tonight". I told you that you could make me, but more importantly YOURSELF proud of your behavior by trying really hard to make good choices and learning to control your body when you feel yourself becoming upset. You said that you would and demonstrated to me throughout the night that you understood. You were a great listener and you went out of your way to be thoughtful to me and to your sister.
I think that, although tonight was tough - the talk that came out of it and the experience of it may in the end be well worth the experience itself.
Funny how that works out, huh?