Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Not a walk in the park.

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.


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.
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mitch1066 said...

Your only human!!You got both kids home in one peice so score one for you:)

Loukia said...

I don't take any pleasure in reading this, but at the same time... it's nice to know I'm not the only mom out there who has to go through situations like this! Oh, let me just tell you - this type of situation? Happens to me ALL THE FREAKING TIME! I'm not kidding. It's amazing I'm not skinny, considering how much I sweat when I'm trying to deal with my children in these types of situations. For instance this morning, Christos refused to go to school. NO matter what I did. I was calm. I yelled. I screamed. I pleaded, I theatened, nothing. He won. No school today. I was devestated, and I lost the battle. YIKES!
Sorry for your bad park experience. There will be days like this to come, but there will also be great days too, when it really is going to be just a walk in the park! HUGS!

Sparkless said...

You didn't fail to keep control because the only person you can control is yourself. You got the kids home. You kept them safe, that is your job and you did it admirably under the circumstances.
Kids are going to throw fits no matter what you do. It's their jobs to push the limits and it's your job to keep those limits.
Be consistent in your parenting and your kids will quickly learn. Of course that doesn't mean they won't misbehave, that's just part of being a kid, but they will misbehave a bit less often.
You did great!

Chandra said...

Yes the wine ALWAYS helps...not to be confused with the "whine" of a child...certainly one cannot make that mistake!

You handled the situation like any other Mom would have..lock yourself in the bathroom and cry...honey I can't tell you how many times I have done that myself! No worreis, your okay, your kids are okay and you learned a valuable lesson...ALWAYS bring the double stroller! ;)

Sabina said...

Such a sobering story, when we are ALL going through these times we feel like we are the only parent on earth to be going through it. When we sit down later on with our glass of wine (as I am doing now after a bad baby day!) we think rationally and realise we are not alone. You did good, you're all home safe and sound!! What Matthew didn't realise was that you were actually doing him a favour, if you had let him carry on playing, he would have got so worn out that he wouldn't be able to walk home and have the energy to play when he got home.

Keep up the good work, don't worry about crying - we all do it! And as for the wine - cheers!!!

Really Rachel said...

We've all been there! Well, I have, certainly. FP cries A Lot and makes me wonder what more attention/love/care she could possibly need. The screaming and determination when she really wants something is incredibly unpleasant. Sometimes I have to grab her under one arm and EP under the other and march them away from whatever it was FP wanted. Tough times. You're doing well!

Anonymous said...

Mitch1066 - Thanks!

Loukia - I'm glad to hear that this kind of thing happens to you to. Well - not glad, but you know, relieved it's not just me..

Sparkless - Thanks. I guess it's just part of the course of parenting.

Chandra - Thanks, it's good to hear others have been through this too. And yes, next time, the double for sure. Argh.

Sabina - It's true - you think at the time you must be the only one going through it. Thanks and Cheers!

Really Rachel - Thanks, I appreciate hearing that.

..... Carmen said...

Sarah, it isn't anything to do with your parenting. It's just where they are at right now. I understand your frustration though, and the needing to cry for a bit (I do that too). I think you did all the right stuff - you gave Matthew warnings, you were firm with him, you followed through. Cut yourself some slack and have another glass of wine :)

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Oh god - this sort of thing happens to me at least once a day. I prefer it when it's one of the twins though (which it usually is since they're three) - they're very light weight. My Oliver, on the other hand, weight 60+ lbs at FOUR.

I tend to look for the silver lining - which right now would be really toned arms.

I love your story - I could picture the whole thing.

Mwa said...

You are right. You are learning. I don't think anyone gets out of this parenting thing without a couple of bruises.

Maternal Tales said...

Oh darling - you poor thing. Yes, this really does happpen to me all the time too. But tell me, what would have been the right thing to do? The thing that would have got both your kiddies home without a tantrum? I'm only asking because seriously I have no idea and I think we could all do with a bit of help! I would have done exactly the same as you in exactly the same order. Yep, bribery normally works for mine and if that doesn't then the 'I'm leaving without you' almost certainly will. Matthew was obviously just in a hideous mood and there was nothing you could have done to change it. It takes a lot of strength to even leave the house sometimes because situations liek this are all too common. Try not to worry honey - you did everythign you could. Deep breaths, more wine, onwards and upwards xx

Little Ms Blogger said...

Is he old enough to understand the concept of "if you don't come right now, we won't be going to the park for a long time...or you'll have a time out at home?

Maybe that might if it happens again.

Captain Dumbass said...

Start buying your wine by the case and think to the future when you can get your revenge in their teen years.

Metropolitan Mum said...

Are these the terrible twos? Maybe I can convince my husband to take some time off and go back to work myself. Just until it's over.
I am not sure I would have stayed calm that long. I think you're doing great.
An award for you over at mine:

Chic Mama said...

I so feel for you. There were two years and eleven months between my first two. My first had terrible tantrums. He used to make me cry all the time. In shops he would kick, pull my hair, I would have people looking at me in disgust. THEN he started spitting!! My sister in law said where did he learn that from as though I'd taught him!! It was hard but we got through it and he's a lovely fifteen year old now. No 2 didn't have tantrums but then he cried constantly for his first 3 mths- I believe you get it somewhere. But boy oh boy, next one a daughter was an even worse toddler. In the end I used to dread or even avoid going out anywhere with her!! No 4, would probably have been okay but I had a nanny so wouldn't ever have to do the hard things such as shopping with her in tow. No 5, I have just hardened to it, I just pick him up under my arm with his legs kicking behind and if people look I don't care. At least I don't have a baby as well, makes it harder.
Obviously you can't do this when out in public but I've often dealt with tantrums at home by joining them, I lie on the floor and kick my legs pretending to have a tantrum. That usually stops them in their tracks or just ignore them completely. Sorry, gone on now!! Good luck, it's hard but won't last that long. Hopefully you'll be able to catch your breath ready for the next round. ;0/