Today, we had a great reason to get up and move- a birthday party for a friend of PJ's, the son of my sweet friend Christine. Christine and I were set up on a "blind date" buy a mutual therapist of our kids (Hi, Jen!) and hit it off right away. I am so thankful for her amazing encouragement and glad that our boys have so much in common! So the plan was to gather up our gifts and venture out into the freeeeeeeeezing weather, headed towards a local bounce place to fete our buddy Nicky.
But we were late. Why? Because PJ did not want to wear a shirt.
I shit you not. Ten minutes before we were going to walk out the door into the 12 degree day, PJ had a full on, teary, meltdown of a tantrum because he did not want to wear a shirt. It wasn't because he didn't like the shirt I picked, it wasn't because he wanted to keep his jammies on. He just didn't want to wear a shirt. At all.
Clothes are not usually something I pick a fight over. I try to choose my battles and they don't include PJ's clothes matching. But I do insist that what he does wear is weather-appropriate and, you know, that he actually wear clothing. The more I tried to gently explain that he needed to wear a shirt, that it was very cold, that he couldn't bounce without a shirt on, the more his tantrum tipped over into Complete System Meltdown.
The time to leave came and went, with the car warming up uselessly outside. Finally, I could feel my frustration getting the best of me. I could feel tears in my eyes as PJ eventually deigned to put on a shirt with appropriate sleeves and we headed out the door. Nicky's gift was thrown into a gift bag and I discovered his card upon our return. PJ was bundled up but I forgot to put on a coat. What I'm trying to say is, we weren't at our best.
We got in the car and as I struggled to get my temper in check I did the only thing I knew would help- I put on the Beastie Boys channel on Pandora and rocked out. It wasn't my best parenting move. This channel often highlights the type of music that would give Tipper Gore a stroke. Here's a sampling of the musical stylings that permeated the car:
|Yup. Mother of the Year right here. RIP Tupac.|
It wasn't my best move, but it worked. By the time we pulled into the parking lot I felt my tension melt, and I was ready to join the party (albeit late) and watch PJ have a blast. He did, of course, have a blast, bouncing around like a pinball on crack. He ate pizza and cheese curls, sang "Happy Birthday" with enthusiasm, and came home in a tired (but far more pleasant) mood.
It made me think of the lifelines we sometimes have to throw to ourselves when we parent these bright, amazing, strong willed babies of ours. I know that I make a serious, concerted effort to match my responses to PJ's occasional nonsense in the most appropriate, responsible way possible. This means keeping my calm when he pulls my hair out by the handful, or not taking the bait when he throws my coffee across the room (has totally happened). It's up to me to try and be an example of what it's like to be on our best behavior. Try being the operative word of course because, sometimes, the only thing that will soothe my frazzled nerves is the lead singer of Cypress Hill crooning "Do you wanna get hiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh?"
Yes, I felt some shame. But I also felt better. I'm going to call it a wash and remember that most of time, I can be the parent I want to be.