There are days I figure if everyone is still alive when Daddy comes home I have done my job.
There are days I figure if I make a conscious effort to laugh instead of yell we’ll all have a better day.
And then, there are days I find myself wanting to join Jimmy Buffet and Alan Jackson in Margaritaville because “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere” and as Will Smith said in MIB “DAYUM!”
Somewhere in-between the laughter and fretting lies the nature of parenting a toddler. Some “experts” say not to yell or scold, and when you reprimand your child to immediately hug them and reassure them that you will always love them. Some “experts” say to warn and paddle, followed by alone time. The thing is that none of these “experts” are experts where my child is concerned. Their rules are hard and fast and carved into stone. Their rules don’t take into account the situation, the mood, my temperament or that of my child. Their rules don’t take into account the amount of sleep or sugar or angst or bouncy joy either of us are experiencing on any given day. The “experts” say if I don’t raise my child within their stated parameters I am a bad parent and am sure to raise a bully, or a slut, or a tyrant or a freaking spaghetti eating ax weilding maniacal clown who will surely take aim at student nurses from a clock tower.
Parenting is hard enough without people looking over your back and judging you. One day after my then-eight-year old son and I had a bad day I involved him in conversation. I’m sure the experts rolled over in their graves…or fainted in their well-padded bank vaults. I said, “You know how you make mistakes sometimes because you’ve never been eight before?”
He nodded solemly.
I explained, “Well, sometimes I make mistakes because I’ve never been a mommy to an eight-year old.”
His eyes widened, “Ooooooh!” He walked away from that talk feeling better about himself because yes, he made mistakes, but lo and behold Mommy was capable of such things too. He was no longer small and flawed. He found out that Mommy and everyone else is human, and that was okay.
I do find that with any child, if you keep your sense of humor the upcoming breakdown (or crying jag or sullen stomping away) can be held at bay with a light attitude and a smile.
Caitria, age 4, was taking her Daddy’s lunch to him in the dining room. The gate was up so she held the sandwich bag over the gate and said, “Here, Daddy.” Well, once she had done that her little hands couldn’t keep a grip on the slippery bag and she dropped it…
…into the open and freshly used potty chair on the other side of the gate.
She looked horrified. Daddy looked horrified. Before Daddy could decide whether to yell and before she decided to cry I laughed and asked, “What’s the matter? Doesn’t Daddy want his potty lunch?”
They both laughed and the crisis was averted.
My second son has a very old soul. He’s always been very grown up and conscientious and wise. At three he would follow me around the house before we left on a trip asking “Do you have your keys? Do you have your purse? Are you ready?” That same year his older brother was annoying him. After a while he couldn’t stand it anymore and came to me in the living room.
“Mom, Cade’s picking on me.”
I looked up from my book. “Well, that’s why I had you. So he’d stop picking on me.”
(I think that’s when he started with the “mo-om!”)
We laughed, I held his hand and walked him back to the playroom to smooth over the teasing.
Every toddler is different the same way every pregnancy is different. The first one may come out headstrong and fearless, and then the second may be shy and quiet. The third is usually a whole different personality. The “experts” can’t raise your child because they don’t know him or her. They don’t know you. They may not believe in the same things as a parent that you do. You know your child best. Go with your gut. Be brave. Walk softly. Carry that big sense of humor. Raise them well.
About the Author: Elisa Ashley
Elisa writes a personal blog (ElisaAshley.wordpress.com) in return for Ho-ho's and Banana Colada Fuze, ghostwrites for her daughter Abigail at The Abby Gales (www.abbyrory.blogspot.com) and also played the part of Ginger on Whisk-ers In Kitchens (www.whiskersinkitchens.wordpress.com). She is currently a full-time mom, part-time student, and part-time photographer. She resides reluctantly in Alabama with her invisible friends and itchy shutter release finger.