To Tame an Inner Child

We all have not-so-fantastic parent moments.  Some are ugly, some are sad, some are just plain laughable (after the fact, of course.)  

One of my recent errors was to leave a dirty diaper on the floor after changing my youngest son.  I completely forgot about it and went on to help the other kids with something.  A minute later my husband said, remarkably calmly now that I think about it, "Um, I...uh... need- help."  He then walked in holding my ten month old facing me with two chubby hands happily squishing his own fecal matter.  It took me about ten seconds to even begin helping because, where on earth do you start?  Sink or hose? Why don't we have a disposable carpet, again?  It is a miracle we didn't scrub that little moose's hands raw with all the washing, and the carpet was fortunately not as smeared as I imagined.  (I'll leave the rest of the scenario to your imagination.  I hope you do it justice.)

Then there are just those busy moments- yesterday I felt like I was doing more back and forth between rooms running "errands" than actually accomplishing anything.  I heard my son still crying upstairs, meaning he might not be taking a nap today.  Oh well, I'll get him in a second, I thought.  About 15 minutes later I was finishing an email at the computer, a bit brain scattered, and I realized that my son wasn't crying anymore.  But instead of breathing a sigh of relief, it suddenly hit me that I couldn't remember if I had taken him out of his crib or not.  Had I brought him down and left him somewhere?  Was he drinking toilet water or, worse, playing my guitar?  He had once gotten wedged behind the couch, so I might actually have a hard time finding him if he went rogue.  Thankfully he was totally fine, fast asleep in his crib.  Whew.  

But the hardest days as parents I think are when we are feeling a bit childish ourselves, and cannot seem to handle the physical child in front of us for the tantrum throwing child inside.  

This morning was a bit like that.  My five year old didn't want to go to school today- she was whiny and tired and then decided to push the guilt by saying that her "tummy hurt".  My kids know that this phrase makes me second-guess my firm stance on anything.  I needed to get her on the bus in less than 20 minutes, and given her emotional state, and the questionable stomach pain, I finally compromised.  "You have an hour at home, then we go to school if you are OK."  I said.  So she said she wanted to watch a show.  Beginning to feel played, I said, absolutely not.  Translation, unless your tummy wants to prove its pain by vomiting, you do not get to lounge and watch a show.  Go look up the word, "truant". 

Forty more minutes confirmed she was more than fine, so I had to lug three kids out to the freezing car and drag them into the school to drop her off.  My daughter sat in the car wearing her blue flower sunglasses, looking comically aloof from the predicament we were all in because of her indecisive "tummy".  The picture was taken by my middle son as part of a compromise on my part after one of our morning battles. He was way acting out all morning- he was mad because he was cold, he was mad because I put his waffle in a bowl, he was mad because he was hungry (tough kid, next time don't refuse to eat your waffle because the dish isn't flat enough for you) he was distraught that I didn't give him his blanket on the way to the school, he said he was going to hit me when we got home, he threw his blanket on the sidewalk, he was angry when I didn't let him open the school door, he slipped and fell on the way back to the car and cried such a pitiful, "could life be any worse" cry.  

I had enough in me at that point to comfort him.  But I was entirely off my game- feeling grouchy myself from the morning, a little weird from an argument the night before that didn't have full closure, completely in my head with everything I did, frustrated at silly things, my inner child ready to burst into tears and just wanting to reach out my little hand and have someone emotionally bigger than me parent me into a better place.  I had the choice to either go grocery shopping with three kids- a four year old, 11 month old, and my immature 27 year old self, or call up an emergency friend to visit and talk me back into an adult.     

So if you were at Aldi today shopping, you are welcome.  I did not bring my miserable gang out to the store, I found a friend to help me out.  And I think that is the beauty of loving friendships- we can let out our childish fears and frustrations and over reactions and find in others a compassion, a sense that we are not alone even in our petty or childish human emotions, our grouchiness and questioning.  And for me I found a that a little openness lead to laughter and lightheartedness and maybe that is what it takes to tame an inner child.

Side note, my son had an amazing time as well, and fell asleep on the way home.  And I'm quite certain I'm at my parenting best when the kids are asleep. :-)