Dear Fellow Parent: I’m Right There With You

Some days I get tired of parenting.  The constant dealings with my ‘want to be the boss’ four year old and coming up on to the beginnings of the terrible two’s to my twenty-two month old, my life as a parent feels awful.  I’m often anxious with the kids especially when we go out; worrying if one of them or both of them will have a temper tantrum, shout, or cry hysterically.  I wonder if my twenty-two month old will stop trying to run away from me every time I tell him to stop running or stop squirming long enough for me to get him dressed.  I wonder if my four year old will listen to me when I tell him not to scream every sound or obscene word that comes to mind and be quiet for once and stop touching every little thing he sees when I tell him not to.  Some days, parenting becomes a chore; a chore that has to get done no matter how nasty, unpleasant, or unfair it is.  I have to parent because it’s my responsibility; they are my responsibility.  They were given to me.  On days like these, my energy levels are drained from mental and physical exhaustion that I want to crawl in my bed, put the covers over my head and to be left alone to cry it out.  Today I thought was going to be one of those days until I heard another parent say, “I’m right there with you.”

I was at the park with my kids when my four year old was on the tire swing.  My youngest son was helping me push my oldest on the swing.  My oldest got  scared and wanted to stop.  He got off and wanted his brother to come on the swing.  I told him that his brother didn’t want to be on the swing and we’re going to the baby swings since he was done. Since I wanted my youngest to get a chance on a swing, my oldest immediately wanted to go on the tire swing again.  I told him no and we’re going to swing his brother, then we’ll leave.  “No, I want to go on the tire swing,” my oldest shouted.  I told him if he could get on himself, he’s welcome to it, but I was going to the baby swings and I walked towards the other swings.  My oldest screamed and started in a tantrum “Don’t leave! Don’t leave!”

A grandfather who had his grandson there said, “I guess he doesn’t want to leave.”

I’ve told him and a mother who witness this that I told my eldest that since he was done with the tire swing that we’re going to swing his brother on the baby swing and now he wants to swing on the tire swing again.  The mother nodded her head as to say “I understand”.

My son was continuing his tantrum as he was walking towards me.  “Stop with the screaming.  You want to go home now?”

“No!” He runs back to the tire swing.

“Don’t you run away from me.Come back here”  I said angrily.  Of course he runs away.  I ran after him and caught him by the arm.  “Do you want to leave,” I asked as I pull my son while he was dragging his feet in the dirt and wooden chips on the playground and then dropping his butt to the ground.  I got him back to the baby swing to wait, but he continued screaming so I told him “That’s it! Go get your bike we’re leaving.”  I took my youngest out of the swing and then he started crying because he didn’t want to leave… he wanted to swing.  I now have both kids crying.  I explained to my oldest why we were leaving and the crying continued along with my youngest chiming in.

As I walked passed the grandfather and the other mother, the other mother responded, “I understand and ‘I’m right there with you’.”  She has a son about four also and a young baby in her arms.  I told her “Thank you and I appreciate your understanding.” I told her when the tantrum starts; I just send my mind to another part of my brain until the tantrum subsides. She was very encouraging, saying it will pass and jokingly said, “Don’t you wish, you can transport yourself and go somewhere pleasant until everything’s over?”  That made me smile and my son’s tantrum didn’t seem like the end of the world because I felt that I wasn’t alone.  I’m thankful for that fellow mother who wasn’t judgmental, but was understanding of the situation.

As parents, we deal with a lot with our children.  When you see a parent upset, not engaged with a blank glare on their face when their children are acting out, talking back, or when they try to try their patience, see this as a normal response to cope with the situation at hand.  Does this mean we let our children behave badly?  No.  We parent the best we can in accordance to our backgrounds, culture, and what we believe a good parent should do. We all been through a time when our children can be the worst of the worst and all you can do is scream inside hoping you don’t cry from frustration.  No matter how you would handle a situation; whether it’s time outs, setting consequences or just giving in, it’s good to know that another parent looks at you without judgment but with empathy cause they have been through what you been through.

So next time when you see a parent struggling to get their children to behave, don’t look at what you would do in that situation.  Try to just look at the situation itself and understand the fear of being judged by other people no matter what they do to make the child behavior or stop crying. Give that parent a look of understanding. Let them know that they’re not alone and tell them: “I’m right there with you.  I’ve been through this too.”

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Roar Like a Lion

The Don: “Mama, you’re like a tiger lion when you’re angry.”

ME:  “Yes, I’m roar more like a lion. I roar because you did something that didn’t please me.”

He knows when I’m serious when I began to roar.

There’s no question when I go out with my kids or if I’m at home who is the boss.  My kids are well behaved for the most part when we’re outside.  I tell them that when we are out “no yelling, kicking, screaming, asking for toys, or running in the stores, touching things,” or this privilege whatever they enjoy will be taken away.  I think parents see this in me as well and try to under mind my parenting.  For example, if I’m out with the kids and The Don is sliding on the slides and I tell him, ‘One more slide and then we’re done,’ there’s always that one parent who try to tell me, “Yeah right, you may say one more time but I bet he’ll slide again.”  My response is, “No, he will stop and we will go.”  Sure enough, when The Don slides down that last time and I say, “Let’s go,” he comes. I had another mother say to me at an indoor play spot after I told The Don that we’re done play now it’s time to go home and get lunch that “That’s what you think. You’ll not going to leave,” as her and her parent friends laughed. “Oh no, we’re leaving,” I said as I walked out the door with my toddler in one had as I’m holding my preschooler in the other.  One of the dad’s said, “Look, I guess she’s leaving,” as I walked out the door. You damn right I’m leaving.

Usually, these parents look surprised that I got my son to listen to me.  He listens because he knows if he doesn’t, I will come and get him and drag him out of the park or wherever we are if I have too.  I’m not ashamed and I’m not scared of what people might be thinking either.  What bothers me is that some parents think that they can override my parenting style because to them they see me as being too stern with my children.  I’m being mean and I’m not letting my kids be kids.  Who says I don’t allow my kids to be kids?  These parents take my stern tone and assume something that’s not there like me being angry at my child. They didn’t hear how I’ve asked my children nicely not to do something for the third time and they decide to do it anyway.  They don’t know my children’s temperament to justify trying to be a referee between me and my child. Just because they let their child get away with undermining their authority doesn’t mean they will try to undermine my authority with my own children.  These people need to bud out seriously before I roar at them.

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“Didn’t I tell you to get over here!

I can see how my parenting style can frighten some of the parents that I’ve encounter.  I come off as brash, expecting my children to have manners, to share communal toys, to be considerate and not hog the playground equipment, and not be the playground bully.  I also expect my children to listen to me when it comes to safety for themselves and others around them. In other words, I’m the parent in the playground. When I warn my oldest son for the third time not to throw sticks down the slide because little kids can come by and get hit with them and he does it anyway, I roar like a lion, (metaphorically of course), and tell him that we’re leaving because he’s not listening, which I warned him that we would leave if he continued.  He would try to run away or try to continue playing hoping that other people around would hinder my actions.  Nope, he should know by now that I’m coming for him and pull him by his arm and forcing him to come.  He would cry and tantrum all the way to the car and other parents see this as like a wildlife story on Nature show seeing the lioness pulling her cub out of the social gathering because he wouldn’t behave.  It’s scary to see a parent parenting their child because in today society, it’s not normal.  It’s usually the child dictating to the parent.

I don’t see the big deal of putting your foot down and saying no or giving boundaries to your children.  More parents are afraid of parenting their children for the fear of some self righteous parent calling CPS on them or being labeled as a bad parent.  More parents are afraid of hurting their child’s feelings and think that setting boundaries will inhibit their child’s true personality.  Children are not as fragile emotional beings as some people think they are.  Children will try to test you to see how much they can get away with and see if you follow through on what you said you are going to do.  When they become too much to handle, these same parents go searching on the internet trying to find out what’s going on with their child’s behavior like they have some type of psychological issues or something.  Most parents seem to be looking for an easy way out of parenting and if it’s letting their child get their way most of the time so be it; it’s better than dealing with a temper tantrum.

So when you hear me ‘roar’ at my children, don’t be frighten.  Don’t think that I’m irrational, irate, or angry.  Most likely, my children did something inappropriate and I’m trying to teach them what is and is not acceptable in society.  I’m doing something that is no longer the norm and that is…parenting my child.