Friday, August 17, 2012

Parking Lot Wars

When I went to drop Landon off at camp this morning, there was a mom and daughter, probably 8/9 years old, arguing outside the building doors. As we got closer I could hear that the daughter was crying and going on about not wanting to go to camp today and the mom was just about to lose it with her.

The girl was hysterical, screaming and crying as loud as possible, and I overheard the mom yell through gritted teeth “NOW GET IN THERE AND HAVE FUN” all while giving the girl a look of death and glancing nervously around at all the other campers and parents walking past them.

Before we had even made it all the way in the door one of the counselors came out to help persuade the girl to come into the building. I don’t know what she said, but they did end up coming in, but the hysterics continued even once they were inside. As I was signing Landon in, I could hear the mom threatening the daughter with taking away fun things they had planned for the weekend, promising to be there to pick her up early and basically saying whatever she could to hopefully convince her to go play so that she could get to work.

As we were leaving the girl did finally go into the gym, and the mom very cheerily waved goodbye and blew her a kiss…it was like the whole scene had never even happened. It was kind of weird, really.

Once back in the car I was thinking about the whole incident and it struck me as kind of funny. Funny how quickly the mom went from maniac to sweet with her daughter…and it made me think about how I parent…and how my kids can make me so crazy one minute and happy the next. It was also kind of funny how she was screaming at her to “get in there and have fun” while giving the girl a look that said “if you don’t, I am going to go ape shit on you”. I mean, if that doesn’t make you want to run in the building and have fun, I don’t know what will.

I’m totally guilty of being like that mom. My kids can drive me close to the point of no return sometimes, and when I say close, I mean close! Sometimes it’s just hard to stop acting like a damn fool and listen to what the problem really is. I think I’m most guilty of this with Landon right now, mostly because Zoe’s too old for that and the other two are too young. I know Landon acts out sometimes because he’s needing our attention, I just wish I could remember that in the moment that he’s acting out instead of getting upset with him. I’m like the mom in the parking lot in that when my kids are getting the best of me I want to shout and act stupid and even bribe or threaten them with taking things away just so they’ll stop acting the way they are. Once the behavior stops, I can pretty much snap back to the more calm version of myself and give a hug, apology or whatever is necessary…and while apologizing is tough, sometimes it is the only way I can forgive myself for acting like a damn fool.

I wish I had thought about helping that mom out as I walked past, but there was no time for thinking when I had to get Landon signed in while keeping one eye on Harper and carrying Dakota in her car seat. Honestly, I don’t know how I could have helped, or if either of them would have even been receptive, but sometimes I think it would be helpful if someone would just reach out and say something like “it’s no big deal, kids do this crap” you know, just so you wouldn’t feel like such a loser who didn’t know how to control her kids.

Even after 17 years of being a mom, I’m still learning. Learning from my mistakes, and when that doesn’t work, learning from watching other crazy mom’s making mistakes in parking lots.

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