T and I threw on rain boots and took a leisurely walk through the quickly melting piles of snow to the coffeeshop two blocks from our house. I convinced him to make the trip by promising him he could pick out a treat when we got there. Coffee shops are not toddler friendly environments, and I try to be respectful of the folks clacking away on their laptops. We always get our stuff to go while being as quiet at possible. T picked out his chocolate chip muffin and as I settled up he took the truck he carried with him and started roughly running it on a low table in front of two arm chairs. I asked him to stop, explaining that it might mark up the table which didn’t belong to him. He looked at me and shouted, “NO!”
Ok. So we’ve made it almost three and a half years before he talked, well yelled, back at me in public. Is that average? What I wish is that I was mature and confident enough to just deal with his behavior rather than feel completely humiliated by having a brat for a kid. Because that humiliation clouds my judgement. My mind races, I wonder if my shitty parenting isn’t what is making him act out. He is misbehaving so much lately that punishment isn’t working. If we went that direction dude would spent almost every waking moment in time out. I’m not as consistant as I’ve promised myself I would be. If he is being a shit and I’m up to my elbows in C’s poop diaper, or making dinner, or unloading the dishwasher, or on the can myself, or just fucking done and unable to handle him any more I can’t address the behavior. I’ve taken the time to download a book about parenting a defiant child on my Nook, but I haven’t bothered to actually read the fucking thing. In the second between him yelling and everyone in the shop staring at us that is the stuff I think about. And I have no idea what the right thing to do is.
I grabbed him by the arm, bent down to his level and hissed at him that if he told me no again he would not get the treat. I snatched the truck from him, and out of hands myself I passed it to C who was on my chest in the Ergo. I told him to apologize. Right. Now. He sullenly did.
I finished paying without being able to make eye contact with the nice gal behind the counter and face burning I hustled his ass out of there. Once we reached the street I launched into a monologue which included such gems as “I am trying to raise you to be a contributing member of society and that includes being respectful to both me and any person we come across.” and “If you are unable to listen to me and behave yourself I will not take you places and get you treats.” and that perennial favorite “Do you understand me? Do you? Do you? Well, you need to tell me.”
He’s three. Three. Yes, he is a raging asshole. But evidently so I am. Because my reaction is doing zero to help the situation. I can’t reason with him. I can’t ask him to be a fucking contributing member of society.
My sisters-in-law are having a baby kind of any day now. A couple of days ago one posted this article to the other’s wall on FB. It’s a good article. But my reaction to it was completely illogical. I felt searing and all consuming jealousy of them. Because I remember being at the point just before T was born when Z and I were having intense discussions about how we planned on raising them. Our intentions were pure, we were ready for the hard work, and we hadn’t made a single mistake yet. Sweet fucking jesus I want to go back to the moment where I haven’t made a mistake yet. Parenting is so much harder than I expected it to be. And Z and I expected it to be really hard. I feel completely defeated so many days, like I’m failing the boys and failing myself. Before I had T I swore I’d never bribe my kid. We bribe him all the time. We also yell, plead, beg. All stuff I’d watched parents do before I was one with contempt, judgement, superiority. I’m not a huge fan of the word “humble”. I think it is constantly misused–“I’m humbled by your adoration”, etc. Well, parenthood has completely humbled me. Here is something I knew would be hard, but I thought I could handle it. I screw up every day. I doubt what I’m doing. And there is no way out, no way to start over. The only alternative is pushing up my sleeves and trying again. Even though I know I’ll continue to fail them.
The amazing thing is I’m glad we did it. As much as I suck at it some days I’m so glad I get to be T and C’s Mom. It is fun to stomp in melting snow piles on the way to the coffee shop. It is fun to watch your kid look at all the baked goodies and pick his favorite. It is fun to cuddle with C, the huggiest baby in the history of the universe. It is fun to throw T over my shoulder and pretend I don’t know where he is as he squeals with delight.
Update: I forgot! That’s my great-grandfather in the picture with me, Alfredo Cordano! Handsome son of a gun, huh?