I learned how to parent reading The Huffington Post

Can a person interrupt herself? If so, then I interrupt my regular programming with an atypical post. (Did you read that in an announcer’s voice? No? Then go back and read it again. Seriously. Now.)

Monday, I read this article by Melissa Sher on HuffPost Parents. If you aren’t the link-following type, then I will summarize:

Melissa told a story of a particularly frustrating morning at home. Nothing was going as it was intended, and conclusions were jumped to. Admonishing herself, she recalled a friend’s recent Facebook post about her own daughter:

“Maggie comes to me all excited and proud. She then proceeds to break a brand-new crayon in two. ‘Maggie!’ I say, ‘Why in the world did you just break a brand-new crayon?!’ And she looks at me all wide-eyed but the joy and pride that was there a second ago is gone. And then she burst into tears, saying between her sniffles, ‘I just wanted to show you how strong I was!'”

Which is to say:

  • Don’t freak out about little things.
  • Don’t assume the worst.
  • Don’t crush your child’s spirit because you are busy.

Okay, so that is offensively reductionist, but you are the one who refused to click the link. You reap what you sow.

Being the social media-loving mama I am, I shared this story on my personal Facebook timeline, with the comment, “I should probably read this every day. Every single day.” (Yes, I repeat myself for effect in real life, too. God I am an exhausting human being.)

THE VERY NEXT DAY—not later in the week, not next month, not around the holidays—a situation like the one Melissa Sher described came to my attention for the first time. I very nearly said that it happened for the first time, but I doubt that to be the case. I was likely just ignorant of the circumstances on previous occasions.

The Kidling, as usual, was displaying less-than-stellar dinner table manners. I calmly told her to stop making “gross sounds” at the dinner table. She changed to a new sound, but persisted. So, of course, to time out she went.

After a few minutes, I went to talk with her about it. Any guesses what she told me? Earnestly she said, “But Mom, I wasn’t making gross sounds. That was part of my song. I was making music.”

And I had humble pie for dessert.

About The Mamahttp://kidlingville.comProfessional talker, editor, emailer, problem solver, adjunct lecturer, blogger, and mother to the brilliantly absurd Kidling.

9 thoughts on “I learned how to parent reading The Huffington Post

  1. That’s funny, Chris – Andy’s sister, Kristin, posted the same article the night you did. Yesterday I went to see them, and while we were in the car, Kristin’s youngest, Lily, kept taking her shoes off. I perceived it as kind of a pain – like, I have to KEEP putting these damn things back on. But Kristin said, “Good work, Lily! You’re learning to take your shoes off all by yourself!” Totally flashed me back to that article.

    Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

      • She’s an awesome mama, no doubt, but so are you. I wanted to say (and should have said) “You’re channeling that article right now, aren’t you?” Also, I’m totally with your friend Mimijk. There are important lines that need to be drawn — yes, even as the occasional expense of creativity! It’s all about the balance.

  2. Are you expecting to get it right every time?? You have one of the highest averages of any mom I’ve ever met…And it is reasonable to remind Alice that there are probably few other kidlets who can make beautiful music like she can and that when everyone is eating it’s impossible to concentrate on her dulcet tones..:-)

    • Honestly? Yes, I do. Because Alice bears the brunt of my misdeeds. I definitely have the gist of level-headed parenting down, but I have a lot of bad days. Had I responded as you suggested-REASONABLY-I would have been quite satisfied with the situation. I, however, didn’t give her the rational explanation for why it was time to eat rather than make sounds. I attached judgment to it. I called the sound “gross” when she thought she was making music. To Alice, those two responses are the difference between preserving her ego and encouraging her creativity and squashing them both. It was not a shining moment in my parenting career, that is for sure.

      And, thank god, today was better.

      • Oh Christine…I too put the pressure on myself all the time to get it right, measure my responses, provide the environment that any kid would thrive in and when I lost it felt like I had damaged my children beyond belief. And yet, childhood is more than one moment in time, it’s extends past a not-so-great exchange and includes all of the hugs and love and wise answers and bedtime stories. It embraces all the ‘i love yous’ and ‘great jobs’. It gives second chances when the mistakes aren’t God forbid – grave or so dire that no more chances are warranted. You have an amazing little girl with equally amazing parents who also are human. And its important that children see that too…

        • It is funny, Mimi: I am so balanced about so many other things. But not this. Parenting feels so dangerous sometimes. I sincerely appreciate the “big picture” reminder. I would do well to keep that in mind.

  3. There was an email going around a long time ago that told a story of a mom who was busy doing something and her son either bugged her so she snapped at him or she turned and he was right there, causing her to break something and then she snapped at him (I forget the exact premise, but you get the idea). The little boy is crushed and was only trying to give her a flower to say he loved her. I think I was pregnant when I read it and I cried, vowing to never do that to my child.
    And yet…I’ve done it so many times I can’t count. Terrible.

    • Okay, so the first lesson is not to read anything when pregnant. I had the same tearful response to other folks’ stories when I was with child.

      Should that be “with Kidling”?

      The second lesson, of course, is that we should calm the hell down. I was telling a colleague the other day that I never yell at anyone but Alice. I don’t yell all that often, but when I get frustrated, the volume increses and the tone gets pretty grouchy. Alice and I talk about it afterwards, but I still feel guilty as hell.

      Finally, I think the third lesson is that we should calm the hell down about the fact that we have not yet figured out how to calm the hell down. We’ll get there. Right?!

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