….because sometimes my child acts just like the spawn of Satan would. Surely this small child could not possibly have been fathered by my sweet, gentle, loving Rambo.
Well, maybe she could have been. No matter how sweet and loving Rambo is – he isn't perfect and he has a penis and I just think that anyone with a penis cannot handle children throwing fits. And there’s the fact that Rambo doesn’t really put up with bullshit. He’s got a pretty short fuse when it comes to disrespect or acting out because he has standards for his kids regarding their behavior. So do I but I have a vagina…so I can put up with more and am just more patient in general.
Last night, Banana, my 7 year old, learned how to ride a bike. Watermelon, the 12 year old taught her in just a few hours. (Cue the obligatory “Awws” and the sentiments of “how precious”)
Yes, it was exciting. Rambo, Watermelon and I went outside to watch this feat. Problem was – (well only really a problem to people with penises) - was that Banana wasn’t riding her bike. She was riding a red and blue Spiderman little neighbor boy’s bike.
She had traded his bike for hers. He took her pink and purple white-tired Barbie bike and she took his red and blue and black-tired Spiderman bike. (Clearly, she did not get my bling obsession or my addiction to all things pink.)
Um, yah – no. The minute that little boy realizes all his other boy friends don’t have pink bikes with white tires – he’s going to want his Spiderman bike back. Duh. Not to mention I’m thinking his mom didn’t approve of this trade either.
So we begin the whole, “Your bike is prettier. It matches your sister’s bike. Oh what beautiful white tires it has. Wow, I wish I had that bike.” prodding.
It didn’t work. Besides inheriting Rambo’s temper and non-patience, she also got his bullheadedness.
She crossed her arms over her chest and said, “No way. My bike is bigger. I can’t ride it like I can ride his.” (Duh, you little imp – that’s because he’s FOUR.)
So we did the “the bikes are the same size” thing and we even put them next to each other to prove it to her. (Complete backfire. His is clearly about an inch smaller. Shit.)
She clearly took note of the inch difference from his to hers. Now we’re just stupid parents. What do we know anyway?
So she tried to get back on Spiderman and Rambo said, “No honey – please start practicing on your bike. That is the neighbor boy’s bike.”
I see the tears starting. And the screaming commences.
“I can’t ride my bike. It’s too big. No one understands me. Daddy is mean.”
And then the stomping off begins. The door slamming follows that.
As Rambo is left to pick up both bikes and put them away, he says to me, “I’m not putting up with that kind of behavior.”
Which is my cue to go in and fix this before we all blow up and explode.
I go inside and I tighten my lips and my hands involuntarily are in fists at my side. I’m angry that what was supposed to be the coolest thing ever is now a complete meltdown.
She’s on her bed and I walk in and say, “Get your pajamas on. It’s bed time.”
“Well – I didn’t get to eat or cuddle with anyone.” (all while crying and screaming and turning 18 shades of bright red and brighter red)
I say, “Why would anyone want to even talk to you when you act like this? That is a little boy’s bike and you can’t have it. You’re a big girl and you need to ride your own big girl bike. There’s no reason for you to act like this. Now get on your pajamas.”
She screams at the top of her lungs. “Noooooooooo.”
I hear Rambo on his way in. I know there is no way in hell he will allow any child of ours to talk to his wife that way. We both grew up with siblings who treated our mothers like dirt and we swore our kids would never, ever be allowed to do such a thing.
Through clenched teeth, I say….”I really don’t think you want Dad to come in here, do you?” (yes – the old – don’t make me get your father trick. I was desperate. Sue me.)
She screams NO again.
The child has balls I tell you. I guess she’s not scared of him (which is good and bad). But damn – she looks like Satan’s kid. Her face is all red and puffy and I swear I see horns sprouting. Who is this demon? Did she come from my loins?
She finally starts getting on her PJs. I leave her room because at this point, I’m starting to lose my cool. This parenting shit sucks ass. I mean, honest to God – it sucks ass sometimes. I want to get in my car and pretend I forgot my name and drive off into the sunset. I want to run.
Rambo is at the top of the steps now – on his way down the hallway to her room – and I’m coming out.
I hold up my hand and say, “Stop. I got this.”
I repeat….with my hand now on his chest as he stops his forward progression.
Again, calmer. “I got this.”
He never said a single word. I know he wanted to. But I also know that he knew he was too angry to say anything that would have helped. I told him she learns tempers and anger from us. From when we lose control of things like our voice volume. That if he goes in there and yells, then he’s acting exactly just like she is – except he’s the adult.
Again, not a word. I saw my words literally register in his mind. He walked away and went and did laundry. He never raised his voice at her once. It’s seriously impressive. I know this because I completely raised my voice. I nearly lost it myself. I have no idea how he didn’t. When he backed off it was a sign of trust in MY parenting abilities. It was a sign of support that he had my back. It was way more than just silence and walking away. It was my husband, really trying, to become a better father every single day.
Later on, she came out of her room. She stood in front of us with big, puffy sad eyes and said, “Daddy, I’m sorry.”
I said, “What are you sorry for?”
She said, “For yelling and throwing a fit.”
Then she fell into his arms.
I looked at him and said, “And Daddy?”
But he couldn’t do it. His lips couldn’t form the words. So I said them for him. I said, “Daddy is sorry too. Just like you shouldn’t yell and get so angry so fast, he knows he shouldn’t either. You are both old enough to have a conversation with each other. And we’re the parents so you need to listen to us. Right, Daddy?”
He nodded and hugged her again. She fell asleep in his arms about 1/2 an hour later.
And though this feels like forever, this whole damn thing took about 10 minutes tops. Then over and done.
I’m totally fine with admitting that we suck as parents sometimes. I have no idea how things went so bad so fast. I know how they got better. I know I’m proud of Rambo for not going into her room and yelling like most fathers I know would have (mine and his would have) – when all he wanted to do was protect me and teach her this isn’t appropriate.
I’m happy he let me handle it. Working in a prison with the worst inmates in our state has warped him a little. He can’t tolerate disrespect at home when he gets it all day from grown men. He forgets that during discipline, quiet voices work better at home. It’s no excuse but it’s the truth.
And my kid can be a brat. She is stubborn as hell. She can be downright mean and nasty and has the bravado of an army. She has no fear of consequences. She pushes limits.
We push back.
It’s amazing how much anger little kids can bring out in us. I think working all day long – so you can give them what they need – and coming home to this behavior is just about enough to make any parent sick.
I think to myself – “We literally work 7 jobs for this little ungrateful human??? We hardly sleep most nights? We live and breathe for her happiness and THIS is what we get?”
It doesn’t seem fair. Or fun.
Some days parenting is just a big ol’ crock full of zebra shit.
And to all of you out there who want to say to me that I should pick my battles and let her ride the damn Spiderman bike….well, you missed the point. She asked a 4 year old to trade bikes with her and he doesn’t even know what that means. She refused to listen to us and got nasty right away. Etc.
I never said we handled this right. I’m just saying that people who never shut up about how parenting is the greatest thing ever (it is) and how it’s not hard because of the love you give and receive and how they’d have 10 kids if they had the time and money….are liars.
Parenting is not CareBear Land. It just ain’t. While my kids no longer physically exhaust me from lack of sleep anymore like when they were infants…they are killing me mentally. Robbing me of any brain power I have left. (Yah, I know there may have not been a lot of brain power there to begin with. Shut it.)
If the 7 year old isn’t turning into Satan before my eyes well then there’s this from the 12 year old last night about 5 minutes after the above meltdown.
“Mom – what would you say to me dating at this age? Would you consider letting me? Oh and I’ve been thinking I’d really like a laptop since you said no to an ipad. Whaddya think?”
My reply to her question?
“My dearest Watermelon, I think Satan is your father too. Go ask him. I'm fresh out of anger for tonight.”