I think any parent would agree that one of the hardest parts of being a parent (outside of stepping on LEGOs), is the often overwhelming fear that you’re doing everything completely and utterly wrong and, because of this, your children will grow up to be felons, arsonists, real estate moguls, or worse. We’re all terrified. Terrified we’re disciplining wrong, too frequently, or not enough at all. Terrified we’re not spending enough time with our kids or that we’re not giving them enough freedom. Terrified that our ineptitude will have consequences that echo to the ends of time and result in the collapse of humanity as we know it. Sometimes all of these terrors occur in the span of ten minutes. But I have news for you. You have every right to be scared because you ARE doing it wrong. Not all the time of course, but sometimes. No one is perfect and we all slip up and that’s okay. We are lead to believe that it’s not though. Not okay to be wrong. Social media shows us only the best side of the lives of our friends and family. Pictures of perfect vacations, perfect holidays, perfect perfectness. They are undoubtedly only fragments in time, captured in the lull of their own daily hurricanes, but they are enough to make us feel inadequate. That if anyone knew the chaotic, “Lord Of The Flies” situations that arise in our own homes, we’d be ostracized by our communities, blacklisted from social gatherings, and stripped of all lands and titles. So instead of giving parenting advice or recommendations, I thought I’d give you a dose of “real”. A quick snapshot of “the struggle” to brighten your day or maybe just remind you that you’re not alone in this mess. Please don’t judge me too harshly or call CPS.
The other night, after arriving home from work and school with both kids (ages 5 and 3), I began the nightly routine of making dinner. Work meetings were keeping Carlye late, which meant I was making my specialty, and the house favorite, boxed macaroni and cheese. As I prepared dinner, both children were out playing in the living room (it should be mentioned here that both children had already tried my patience by arguing the whole way home, so tensions were moderate to high). Halfway into the boil, Josie (3) wandered in and asked if she could help make dinner. I agreed, but informed her there was not much left to do. She proceeded to move one of our large stools from the island to the stove area, as is her custom. Once the heavy moving was complete, Easton (5) conveniently appeared, proclaiming he too would be helping to prepare dinner. I again, reminded them there was little left to do. Undeterred, Easton climbed onto the one-person stool with Josie, where they both began fighting immediately for valuable real estate. After minutes of this, I became frustrated and told them that since they couldn’t get along they’d have to leave the kitchen. Easton dug in his heels, as is his custom. I demanded he leave and find something else to do. In his fury, he grabbed a cardboard box off the counter, one that he’d been saving to build his “robot” (this is another story entirely), and whipped it to the floor. I demanded that he pick it up. He declined. I picked up the box and, fully knowing its value to him and his robot endeavor, proceeded to tear it to shreds. Not my finest moment. My act of retribution was met by one of the most hideous banshee shrieks I’ve ever heard my son produce. And then another. And then Josie began to wail. And Easton wailed more. And I spoke at them in ever increasing volumes, sending Easton to his room, which Josie interpreted as her punishment as well. And, as these two sobbing creatures crawled in anguish up our staircase, they somehow managed to start, between hearty sobs, a chant in perfect unison: MEAN DAD, MEAN DAD, MEAN DAD!!!
And there you have it. The story of the one time I was able to get my children to cooperate and work together. Now don’t forget to click the “follow” button on the side of this site. I’ve got all kinds of personal stories to make you feel better about yourself.