Awful Parent Moments in Retrospect
Awful parent moments are a rite of passage. Children are unpredictable, which leaves parents scrambling to anticipate when the next disaster is going to strike. If you’ve managed to escape these horrible parenting moments, I’m impressed.
The public tantrum, screaming baby, loud body noises, rudeness, and honesty are only a few experiences we all get to enjoy. However, when enough time passes and you get to look back on them, they are at least a little funny…maybe.
The Public Tantrum
A classic, familiar scene where the kid wants candy or food or is overly tired or in a bad mood or wanted to stay home and watch television or any combination thereof. Whatever it is, they’re not happy, they’ve had enough and you are headed for trouble.
You hit the point that goldfish crackers aren’t keeping them happy. Even your phone isn’t good enough and your child begins to morph into a screaming, writhing octopus on the floor (or cart) of the store, restaurant, library, or doctor’s office. Wherever it happens, you will have used up all your parenting magic tricks.
One way or another a public tantrum will happen. Every kid throws a tantrum in their own way so maybe your child’s weren’t too bad. If so, you are lucky.
The Screaming Baby
I swear this happens at Wal-Mart when only 3 out of 30 cash registers are open, and 15 people are lined up at each one. You will have one person in front of you giving you the stink eye while the elderly lady behind you is telling you to enjoy your baby while she’s young.
My other favorite place for a baby to scream is the doctor’s office. There is nothing like trying to quiet an infant in a room full of sick people to make you start sweating bullets.
All the bouncing, shushing, and humming in the world isn’t going to quiet this kid. My favorite is when someone starts giving you dirty looks – like you are pinching your child or something. I always felt like telling that guy, “You’re right. I should just make her stop. Why didn’t I think of that?”
Unfortunately, screaming babies seem to happen in desperate situations, like when your baby is wearing the last diaper so you can’t leave the store without diapers. Or you are waiting for an appointment that’s been scheduled for two months so you can’t walk away.
This one isn’t as uncomfortable as the public tantrum or screaming baby. I find it difficult because it usually happens in places where breaking out into uncontrollable giggles is a bad idea.
For example, you’re holding the baby on your lap and everyone bows their head for prayer. Half way through, Junior, who is sitting on your lap, decides to rip the loudest, juiciest fart/poop/burp (one or a combo of the three) ever known to man. Even grandma across the table opens an eye to see if the baby exploded. All you can say is, “I didn’t do it.”
What are you going to do? Babies can’t control their body functions. You didn’t really do it…unless you did and you’re using the baby to hide it. You spend the rest of the time trying to control the giggles and everyone thinks you have the maturity level of a 5-year-old.
One day I was at the park with, my then, 3-year-old son. He was standing at the top of the slide preventing a little girl from going down. I could see her parents motioning for her to talk to my son. I could see trouble brewing so I headed over.
Before I could reach him I heard the little girl say, “Excuse me?”
To which my son replied in a loud Tyrannosaurus Rex voice, “My name is NOT excuse me!”
The couple broke out into hysterical laughter. With an embarrassed laugh, I told my son to move. Yup, I was the mom who had taught their kid zero manners. I guess ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ weren’t enough, although that incident made me wonder if I’d remembered to teach him those.
Honestly, I hate episodes of rudeness because they make me look and feel bad. That’s terrible but it’s true. It’s less about my child and more about what I think people think of me. Truth be told, they aren’t thinking about me at all.
I know that you can tell a child to say please and thank you until you are blue the face and they actually will say please and thank you 99.9% of the time until you are in public or with someone judgmental and that is when they will forget.
The Inappropriate Public Disclosure
“My daddy is fat and I jump on him.” “My mom and dad are grumpy. Mom sleeps all day.” “Grandpa is fat like a tomato.” Two out of three of these were said by my own children. One was said to me by a 4-year-old in a church class.
When you have kids you might as well consider your life an open book. They tell everyone the things you would rather keep quiet. The worst part is they don’t even tell the story correctly. Details get jumbled and parents get quoted out of context. The next think you know people think you are a drug dealer.
I love the honesty. I really do. My kids keep it real at home, in public, and everywhere else.
Learning to Laugh
These experiences are embarrassing, uncomfortable, frustrating, and disheartening. I remember coming home from a trip to the grocery store with three little kids and breaking out in tears. It was that bad. Now, looking back it makes me smile a little. I smile at the insanity of it all and how it seemed so normal. Life isn’t normal when you have lots of little kids. You live in crisis mode all the time.
I laugh at the time I tried to get all of my children flu shots at the same time. One child was unloading the drawers in the exam room, another was screaming hysterically under a chair, and I was holding a screaming baby trying to stop it all. My oldest sat on the exam table and very stoically got a shot. It was awful, but it’s funny now.
My children are getting old enough that we don’t have these moments every time we leave the house like we once did. They are a once in a while thing, which makes them easier to handle.
In fact, I was very proud of myself when my last little guy was potty training and decided to ‘clean’ up his own accident. There was poop everywhere – the walls, under the bed, on him, in the carpet. Even as I was cleaning it up, I laughed because I knew it was going to be a great story.
Time has given me a different perspective. I’m far enough away from the charged emotions to see the humor and laugh at the insanity of it all. Children take you on a crazy ride. Awful parent moments make you better, teach you to laugh, not take yourself too seriously, and to be happy despite the poop on the wall.