Monday, June 22, 2009

Had A Bad Day...

Sometimes, the day is just off. Work can be stressful. Tension with a loved one. Children pushing buttons. As an adult, I'm "more in control" of how I manage a bad day. I'm more "in touch" with how I de-stress and feel better. As a 4 year old, Teagan has no idea how to snap out of it. How to get back on track. Sometimes, the simplicity of "making a different choice" just won't work. She had one of those days today. I got to pick up the kids this evening- a rare treat these days. Jeff had plans for the evening so I rushed to get them on time. Teagan was sitting in time out when I got there. She was in trouble, for the umpteenth time today, for sassing, talking back, not listening. Being rude to Miss Lisa. The same things she had gotten a talking to about at Sunday School yesterday. The same issues we've been having at home. I gave her my Disappointed Mommy face. And I thought about what to do. How to help her make a different choice. I buckled her in. I told her... Daddy's not home for the evening. We're getting McDonald's for dinner. McD's is a Big Deal. It's well known that Mommy doesn't like McD's because it makes my tummy hurt. Teagan's eyes got big. "But you don't like McDonald's! It makes your tummy hurt!" "I know. But I love you. And I know you like McDonald's." We start driving. She's thinking in the back seat. We get our food and start the drive home. "Mommy? Why did you get us McDonald's when it makes you feel yucky?" "Well. Sometimes Mommy has a bad day. And sometimes Mommy has a day where she makes lots of bad choices or I feel like there is just too much to do. And on those days, I just want someone to do something to help me feel better, to show me they care about me and love me and that someone wants to help my day get better. You had a rough day today, didn't you? (She nods from the back seat.) Well. I love you. And I care about you. And I wanted to do something special to help your day get better." And you know what? We've had a perfectly lovely evening. We ate dinner together. We watched a little TV (recorded PBS shows). We had a fun bathtime. We all played in Teagan's room and sang songs and read a book. I put Zach to bed and spent a while just talking and such with my daughter. And bedtime was peaceful. And quiet. And enjoyable. I don't look at it as rewarding bad behavior. I look at it as a lesson in helping out someone you love. She knows this isn't an all the time treat. She knows that demanding it won't make it happen. And she knows that sometimes Mommy will go out of her way to do something special- just because I love her. Even if it means that Mommy gets a little tummy ache.

7 comments:

Jim and Garret said...

Damn, I'm moving in.

yodaobi said...

goodness!
I'm crying at my desk!
You are a honey!
I got sooo pissed off with William this morning because he wouldn't brush his teeth before his dental appointment and I had to manhandle him into the car.
TONIGHT I am going to play with william, HANG everything else! he's such a good boy and sometimes he needs mum to slow down!

Thanks for sharing
you are an amazing mum.

Pls let us know if she's had a better day today!

Alix said...

You know Liz, I was silently tsking in my head about the McDonald's thing - but as usual - your Eternal Lizdom trumps my meager parenting instincts once again. You were brilliant and your parenting not only salvaged the day, but gave Teagan something to think about that mattered to her. And you presented it in a way that not only modeled the lesson but transferred it to her. I am SO proud of you. And you know what? You taught this 50 year old a little something as well.

Love you.

Joanie M said...

Hopefully, what you said and did will have an impact at school. Let us know if her behavior improved! I sure hope it did!

KPCL Girl said...

You're amazing, Liz. You really know your kids. Charlie (my oldest) and Ben (my youngest) were so different, it took me FOREVER to figure out how to 'manage' Ben. Whew.

yodaobi said...

I have a friend with 3 and 8 yr old daughters, they feature in my blog sometimes, we were chatting on the phone yesterday and I noticed she was yelling a lot at the older girl even antagonising her. While speaking softly and gently to the younger girl she was agressive and snapped at the older one.

Both were having a really bad day, my friend was ill and just wanted to lie down, the older girl angry and tearful, so I said I could hear a huge difference in your voice when talking to her kids and I'm sure Ms 8 will be picking up on that making the siruation worse. I told her about this story and she was shocked at her attitude and behaviour and is now planning a well needed date with miss 8.

It's awful how stress, pain and exhaustion can turn the most rational people into "mean mommies"

Thanks again for your beautiful story

Amy said...

You rock. What a terrific mom!