I felt a little neurotic today.  Maybe more than a little.  It started this morning.  My daughter was going on her first play date where the mom (my dear friend) would be picking her up from school and taking her to their house to play with her children.  (A lot of hers in there, hope you got the point – friend/mom has kids, Maggie going to play with them…)

In preparation this morning I did a little of the “what is expected” talk.  You know the one – “When you are at someone else’s house you need to listen to the mommy.  Remember to go potty.  Wash your hands.”  Basically all the things I have been teaching her for the last 4 1/2 years.  But I ended with the most important – “When it is time to go, I want you to get your shoes on and gather your things with a smile on your face and say thank you.”

 “Of course, I will,” she said.

Of course, I will.  Hmpf.  One of the reasons we don’t do afterschool playdates on a regular basis is the fact that when we do, and it is time to go, she turns into this crazed child who I don’t recognize.  By this time we are all tired and hungry and I can’t be as patient as I would like and it just gets uglier from there.  My solution has been to avoid the whole situation.

I looked into the eyes of my sweet child this morning and said “I know sometimes leaving is the hardest part.  When we are having fun it’s hard to stop and say goodbye.  But I really want super cooperation today.  When (the mommy) says it’s time to go, no problems.  OK?”

“OK, mommy.  I don’t do problems with other people.  Just with you and Daddy.”

“Oh, and why just with me and Daddy?”

“You guys are mean to me so I am mean back.  But (the mommy) is never mean to me so I won’t be mean to her.”

Gulp.  Tears in eyes.  Sound of my parenting skills circling the drain.  Ouch.  That one felt like a bullet right between the eyes.  And through the heart.

So I spent the rest of the day feeling somewhat neurotic.  Surely I can’t be that bad?  She came home tonight so happy and acting like she does this every day.  Normally at that time she would be beginning the evening crabbiness.  Not tonight.  She was as happy as could be.

So back to the parenting books I go.  Many people say you can’t learn how to parent from a book.  While I agree you can’t learn how from a book, sometimes reading about techniques and hints helps me get back into a better frame of mind.  I certainly don’t want to go on being the mean one.  If mean is we have to go home, that’s one thing.  If mean is I raise my voice quicker than I should, well, then it’s time to regroup and learn a new skill.  There is a wonderful book called Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen.  I reread it every so often to ground myself when needed.  Apparently it’s needed.


4 responses to “neurotic

  1. first, mine is exactly the same at the end of playdates.

    second, she is mean to you because you are her safe base. she knows she can vent on you and you will still love her. A good parent raises a kid who feels comfortable being awful at home and good away.

    as any parenting book will tell you 🙂

  2. I totally agree with Emily. My kids feel the same way–and really, I don’t want them being “ugly” with anyone else–although it drives me crazy and makes me want to pull all of my hair out!!

    Trust me, I’ve got an 8 year old—you have no idea what is coming…(and unfortunately, neither do I!!) 🙂

    Have a great day and try not to be so hard on yourself. You are a great parent!!

  3. Brigid,
    You are one of the best Moms I know! Your children are proof of that. Rich’s Mother used to say her boys were hellions at home and angels when out……..I’d rather that……..although it would be nice to have children be lovely all the time! LOVE your blog.

  4. I just loved your article and would love to share it on my blog with your permission. I agree with Emily. I know that parents are doing a great job when children are better behaved away from home (because they have been taught well) than they do at home where they feel safe to test (knowing they’ll still be loved).
    I would like to share something you might want to try. Instead of “telling” her what she needs to do (that usually sounds like a lecture that could be interpreted as “mean,”) try “asking” her to tell you what she needs to do to make the transition work better for her. Asking often helps children feel more empowered and cooperative. For example, telling, “Don’t forget your coat,” often invites rebellion (don’t tell me what to do), while asking, “What do you need to take so you’ll be warm outside?” often invites a child to think and choose in her own best interest.
    Thanks again for sharing. You are an excellent writer–as well as a parent that invites creative child expression. 🙂

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