At that point, The Nugget started screaming. And running from me. And we started having our (recent)usual fight about getting her shoes on. And my friend started laughing. Quietly, not egging on The Nugget, but laughing never the less. Between attempts to
"I'm sorry!" she said. "I've just never seen her act like that. I didn't know she ever did. It's just good to know I'm not the only one this happens to!"
Huh. Perhaps I've been giving off the wrong impression. Have I not talked openly enough with my friends about my struggles with parenting? Have I seriously never lost it in front of my friends? More importantly, has The Nugget seriously never lost it in front of my friends? Looking back, it occurred to me that she may not have. In general, my kid is a pretty go-with-the-flow kind of a girl. She is an introvert at heart and generally content to play by herself if shunned by others and she truley has reserved most of her melt-downs, up until recently (when the age of two and a half kicked into high gear), for when we are by ourselves.
The last thing I want to come off as is the perfect parent with the perfect kid with all of the perfect answers about how to do all of the perfect things. Let me be clear: I have no idea what the hell I am doing. I'm just going with my gut like most of the parents out there. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I get it wrong. All in all, I am just hoping to avoid too many therapy bills for my child when she one day leaves the nest.
Here, in brief form, are a few of the ways things sometimes go terribly wrong between me and The Nugget:
- I tell her no. She screams. As loud as she can. In my face.
- I tell her yes. She still screams. As loud as she can. In my face.
- I try to talk with her about something she wants because I don't understand what she is asking for. She becomes immediately frustrated. And screams. As loud as she can. In my face.
- I totally lose my composure and scream as loud as I can. Not usually in her face, but, trust me, I can scream quite a bit louder than she can. My throat is generally sore for several hours after one of these outbursts.
- I smack her. I am not a fan of hitting kids. I know lots of people spank and smack their kids all of the time as part of their parenting. I am not one of those people. I hate myself after I smack her.
- The Nugget smacks me.
- The Nugget spits at me.
- The Nugget flails in anger and almost smashes her melon open at the slightest insult (which may be something as simple as a nudge to get her moving in the right direction).
- The Nugget screams at and/or hits the dog without provocation.
- The Nugget refuses to follow direction of any kind.
So friends, if I've ever given you the impression that I have it all together, please take that out of your minds! The biggest thing that I do really, really well as a parent is apologize when I'm wrong. Which is often. And, not to leave you with another wrong impression, here are a few of the ways that things go incredibly right between me and The Nugget:
- She gives me kisses whenever I ask for them and, sometimes, even when I don't.
- She gives heart-felt apologies for bad behavior.
- She shares readily with other children.
- We rock each night and sing in the rocking chair in her room. We've been doing it since her she came home from the hospital.
- We take awesome walks and explore our neighborhood together.
- She eats her fruits and vegetables without so much as a complaint. She loves them.
- She feels safe enough with her parents that she knows she can act out and test her boundaries and that we will still love and support her.
- She is creative and has a great imagination and includes me in all kinds of pretend play.
- She enjoys helping me cook or water plants or clean or really helping me do anything at all.
- Every day, no matter what, we tell each other how much we love each other.