Before I had kids I was the perfect parent. I was awesome and totally rocked it. That is how I start out each and every parenting class I teach. Its so much easier to be the expert, the rocking it parent when the children in your imagination are your offspring. Then there is reality.............
I do rock it with new borns and infants. I am super woman when they are little and just need to be changed, fed, loved and held. I can cope with the lack of sleep like none other- oh ya baby! I can do teething and post immunization crying in a single bound. But then they get older..............
I was the "good girl" as a child. A born people pleaser who always wanted people to notice that I was good. As I was good at being good. In kindergarten CCD I told my mom I was "the goodest one in the whole class" I heard my mom tell my teacher who replied, "she is." In third grade, I made it my mission to not only sit up straight, listen attently and do all my work but I also made sure to tell on the boys every day and every time they did something wrong. Poor TA got in trouble with Sr. Assumpta every day because of me. I made it my mission to not let anything he did go unpunished.
Paybacks are a bitch aren't they?
First off, the goodest girl in the class is also the ass kiss and the sneakiest. Don't ever forget that sneaky part. I really was good. I really did comply. But I also got away with a few things because people would believe what I said even if it was a lie because why would such a good girl need to lie?
I think my statute of limitations is up and I can confess to this one now. I worked at Ponderosa Steak House during high school and the first semester of college. One night I got the idea that it would be fun to buy some wine coolers and put them in the soda glasses so we could have them while we closed the restaurant. I told one of the others and we sent Teresa a server who was over 21 to Albertson's to get some. Most of us working that night kicked in a few bucks and we were all careful to not tell the Mormon girl what we were doing. The bottles were in the bathroom so when I changed my clothes to go home I put them in a sack to throw them away on the way out the door. Oddly, that night and probably the only night ever, the manager came to the back area to check us off on our closing protocol. He came around the corner just as I came out of the bathroom. Maybe he knew..........? I was so scared I dropped the bag and the bottles rolled out. "I found these in the bathroom, I stammered" Any tippsiness I might have had was gone from the adrenaline running through my veins. He asked me who's they were and I said I didn't know. He replied with "I'm pretty sure you know who they belong to and defending the person who did something like that is not the right choice. You let them know if they ever do that again, they will be fired." Ha Ha! The good girl rides free again he didn't suspect me- that is what my teenage brain told me. But now, maybe he did and he knew that the embarassment was punishment enough. It was because I never did that again.
I digress, but my kids are not like me. They are not the people pleasers. The things that worked on me don't work on them. Parenting has been hard. The older two were challenging but the baby is the one who is going to push me over the edge. I have been to "THAT POINT" with him on many occasion. That point, meaning the point where I see myself bashing his head against a wall. The point where I want to "slap the shit out of him" The point where I have to remind myself that I am adult and that I have the ability to change my mind about how I am handling a situation and back out- retreat- put myself in time out. I joke about it at times- "Can you see the headlines, University parenting instructor behind bars for beating her own child" but its scary to know that if I can go there that anyone can. In addition to my first sentence, I also always tell my classes,
"right now, while you are pregnant, you can't imagine ever being so angry at your child that you will hit him/her. You are very judgemental about the person who has. You see the statistics and think you don't fit the profile for the type of person who would beat their child or shake them to death but every one in this room; everyone left in charge of a child has the potential to go there. It may not be with an infant or a toddler, it may be with a teenager (then I make a joke about shaken teen syndrome to lighten the mood) but it can happen and it doesn't make you bad it makes you human. Parenting has so many joys and rewards AND it has challenges and self doubt. You may or may not use the breathing skills you learned in birth class to get through labor but there is no "epidural" for life and that is when the breathing skills are going to be needed."
There are outstanding parents who have easy children to parent and there are outstanding parents who are doing a damn good job with difficult children. Don't get me wrong, there are some horrible parents out there too. But the next time you see a mom in the store with a child who seems out of control, don't judge. She may be the best damn parent out there who has a difficult child and in the end, that child will become a wonderful, productive memeber of society due to her patience, love and understanding of who that child can be.