This post was first published April 14, 2014
Humiliating doesn’t even begin to describe Friday morning.
Samuel starts PreK in the fall. His future school was hosting an Open House on Friday morning.
The spring before Eli started school, I brought him to the Open House too, so I knew that while it wouldn’t give Samuel a completely clear picture of what school would be like, he could at least see the classroom, the teacher, and some of his potential classmates.
My other motivation, which I admit was strong, was that everyone who attends receives a tuition discount.
We had to be there at 8:30 and since 99% of my babysitters live at least an hour away, I decided to bring Annelise along as well. This decision made me a bit anxious. She’s wonderful, but she’s one. I was worried about her running around the classroom, pulling toys off shelves, screaming when I tried to get her to sit still, and just being a general distraction.
I shouldn’t have worried. She was fantastic.
Samuel was the one I should have worried about.
I’ll try to bullet-list the highlights to keep it brief:
- When we arrived, all the kids were playing with puzzles.
- He didn’t want to play with puzzles.
- Until it was time to put the puzzles away.
- Then he really wanted to play with puzzles.
- A lot.
- He wouldn’t take no for an answer.
- We went into the hallway to have a ‘discussion’.
- He decided to sit with the rest of the kids at circle time.
- Except the puzzles were on the table right behind him.
- And he really wanted to play with puzzles.
- There was no freaking way I was letting him play with puzzles.
- It was time to go to a different classroom.
- He didn’t want to go to a different classroom.
- He wanted to play with puzzles.
- I physically removed him from the puzzle room.
- There was screaming and crying.
- Privileges were lost.
- We made it into the other room.
- All was well.
- Then he brought up the puzzles again.
- I tried not to turn into the Hulk.
- He took off down the hallway.
- Screaming and crying the whole way.
- A concerned secretary came out to investigate.
- I made some comment about this being ‘a total nightmare’.
- I carried Annelise in one arm and crying, screaming, kicking Samuel in the other.
- I realized this was not humanly possible.
- Annelise got to walk.
- She wandered from classroom to classroom to explore.
- Thankfully, they were all empty.
- Somehow we made it back to the puzzle room.
- Samuel promised to obey if we could just stay at Open House.
- He showed me how serious he was about this promise by trying to pull out the puzzles.
- I grabbed my car keys, leaving the coats and my purse on the floor.
- I employed super human powers to once again carry Annelise and crying, screaming, kicking Samuel down the hall and out of the building.
- I managed to thrust Samuel into the car and buckle Annelise into her seat.
- I then employed more super human strength to buckle Samuel into his seat.
- I got into my seat and discovered that while I was buckling Annelise, he had knocked my half full cup of coffee all over the passenger seat.
- He continued to scream and cry.
- My initial adrenaline rush began to subside.
- I started to cry.
- I weighed my options for retrieving our coats and my purse.
- The option where I get arrested for leaving screaming kids alone in a locked car won.
- We headed home, one hour after arriving, with McScreamy howling for the entire 20 minute drive.
What pearls of wisdom can I pull from this experience? Well, even just a few days later, I can see the humor in it far more than I could that day. But honestly, by that evening I was emotionally exhausted. Here’s why:
The rational part of my mind knew that Samuel was overwhelmed and scared about Open House.
Rational Me knew that his fixation on the puzzles was just a way for him to control a situation that felt out of control to him.
Rational Me knew that he would have responded better if I had been more understanding of the way he was feeling.
But the part of me who reacted was not Rational Me.
The me who reacted was Embarrassed Me.
Who just knew that everyone there was judging her.
What a terrible mom she was with absolutely no control of her child.
How she must never discipline for him to be freaking out like he was.
How he was just the type of kid they didn’t want their child to be around because he would be a bad influence.
You know how Embarrassed Me knew all this? Because that’s exactly what I would have been thinking.
And the me who reacted was Angry Me.
Angry at her son for choosing this moment in a crowd of people to behave this way.
Angry at herself because even though she knew that an angry reaction never helps calm a situation, she just couldn’t help herself.
And the me who reacted was Defeated Me.
Who was sure, once again, that she was a total parenting screw up.
Who clearly didn’t know how to control her child or teach him the proper way to behave.
Who obviously wasn’t consistent enough, or strict enough, or both.
Who really just wanted to curl up in a little ball and hand over the reins of responsibility to someone who was more suited for the job.
But here I still stand. I am not a perfect mother and I don’t have perfect children.
Maybe Friday’s events were a little gift from above.
To remind me to stay humble.
To be slow to judge.
To extend grace.
So now I try to remember THIS when one of my kids misbehaves in public:
We all have bad days. Some are just a little more public than others.