Yesterday I experienced a discipline disaster that left me deflated. The day was rolling along smoothly until I decided to do what would seem like a perfectly normal, perfectly achievable thing, but which was actually a huge mistake. I decided to take the boys to the park.
The journey to the park was easy enough, a leisurely stroll - Oliver in the stroller, Matthew walking. (Later I would mentally bash myself over the head for only bringing the single stroller. Doh!) All was fine. Matthew played happily on the climbing frame for about an hour, scrambling up the bars and whizzing down the slides.
Then, almighty horror of deathly horrors, it was time to leave. To soften the blow, I gave Matthew several warnings that we'd soon be leaving.
"Two more minutes and then it's time to go home love."
"One more minute and then we're leaving."
Each time he shook his head reluctantly. "Noooo."
Finally, I told him it was time to go. He ignored me and continued his adventure on the climbing apparatus. So I resorted to bribery.
"Okay sweetie, if you come right now, I'll let you watch Treehouse and have a cookie and some milk, okay?"
Still he ignored me.
"Okay, we're leaving now. Bye bye." The old I'm going to leave you behind trick.
As Matthew came down the slide, I held out my hand and firmly explained to him, "Matthew, we're going right now. Come on, take my hand."
"No." He said with a firmness equal to mine.
"YES." I said, louder, and feeling the rate of my heart increase. "Right. Now." Time to bring out the stern voice.
"No! No. No. Noooo!"
"Fine." I said, sweeping him up in my arms (as much as a huge toddler that's more the size of a 3.5 year-old than a 2.5 year-old, can be swept). Immediately, the screaming and wailing began, as Matthew realized the decision had been forced out of his hands.
I walked the length of the park, holding my roaring, squirming toddler sideways as he thrashed and kicked, silently hoping there were no witnesses to the scene. At the park exit, I lowered Matthew to the ground to let him walk.
He turned and ran back into the park. Frig, this boy can run fast. I sprinted after him, grabbed him, scooped him up and again, the screaming started.
Oh my flipping gawd the teeth grinding struggle was just starting.
Then, realizing the whole walking out of the park like reasonable people idea was not going to happen, I decided to strap Matthew into the stroller, and carry Oliver. Not an easy thing, to steer a stroller with one hand with a yelling, writhing toddler, and hold a wriggly baby in the other.
Only a few minutes outside the park and I could feel myself loosing my rag.
One block later, I take Matthew out the stroller since he now wants to walk, and put Oliver back in.
Okay? Good. Off we go. Only another TEN MINUTES until home. We can do it!
More fingernail-pulling torture.
Matthew decides to walk into the middle of the road and sit down, and continue his hysterical monologue about PARK PARK ME GO BACK PARK NO NO PARK GO BACK!
Now I am sweating. My blood is beginning to boil in my veins.
I dash to pick my child up from the road, before he is run over by a car, and plonk him back onto the sidewalk.
Now my firm voice has turned to my I'm going to kill someone in a minute voice.
"STAY ON THE SIDEWALK! DO NOT GO IN THE ROAD! IT IS DANGEROUS!"
By this point, all of the things I had read about staying calm, not loosing one's shit, doing all those techniques to prevent the meltdown from erupting - basically evaporated in the steam rising from my head.
Matthew wouldn't get up from the sidewalk. I wait. One minute. Two minutes. Three minutes. Still, I'm asking, in my now squeaky,hissy voice "LET'S GO!"
He won't come.
Ten minutes later. We're still there.
So, on to plan F.0023. I take Oliver out of the stroller, sit him on the sidewalk, and strap Matthew back into the stroller. He is now entering a new level of frenzy.
Oh. My. God.
I stormed home, pushing the stroller with the tempestuous toddler with one hand and clutching the wiggly baby in the other arm.
The minute we were in the door, I put the kids down in front of the telly and locked myself in the bathroom. And actually cried for about five minutes. I felt like a terrible mother. I had failed at maintaining control, at keep my patience, at being able to handle my children.
Yes, I had a little pity party. Me, myself and I.
And then I recovered and poured myself to a large glass of wine.
Later on, when I had resumed my sanity, I realized that yesterday was an experience I must simply learn from. That parenting is sometimes a stumble-around-in-the-dark, learn-as-you go kind of affair. And, that I need to learn to forgive myself for my inefficiencies and move on to better times.
Wine always helps too.