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.