Friday, April 25, 2008

A Mommy Meltdown

Yesterday Allie's Kindergarten class put on a play for all the parents to come watch - The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle (one of my all-time fave children's authors!). I know I was just as excited as she was for the big day - not only was Allie in the play, but she was actually one of the narrators and just a mere 8 months ago when she walked into Kindergarten she couldn't read anything (other then recognizing her name) and yesterday she was reading from a book in front of a cafeteria full of moms, dads, grandparents and misc other adults.

The morning started off excellent - Allie actually was so excited she did her morning routine without the usual prodding from me (wash hands & face, brush teeth, brush hair, etc). We had laid her clothes out the night before (her "costume" for the play was a jean skirt and a bright blue t-shirt with an adorable flower on it) and she was all excited to wear it. So, she put her skirt on and has "that look" on her face - I said "what's wrong?" Knowing full well she had some reason I wasn't going to understand of why she didn't want to wear the skirt (I know her well enough to know that if she thought I was going to understand why she didn't want to wear it, she wouldn't have bothered to make a face as she would have just taken the skirt off and simply told me why she wasn't going to wear it). She told me (get ready for this) - "when I suck my belly in the skirt is a little too big for me and this is what happens (she points to the top of the skirt where a slight visible line from her panties are showing) and I don't want people to see my panties". So, I tell Allie she doesn't normally walk around like that so I'm sure it won't be a problem. She tells me that it could happen when she stretches really high or if she jump ropes really high.

Ok - not to panic yet, she has 3 more jean skirts she can choose from. We are doing okay. So - next jean skirt she doesn't like because it only has 1 button in the fly and one on top and she thinks people will see her panties. Next jean skirt has an adorable belt - but Allie doesn't like tucking shirts in and so unless a shirt falls just above the top of the belt she won't wear the skirt - and this shirt was a bit longer. So the next jean skirt was a skort and she refused to wear that because she was told to wear a jean skirt - no matter how many times I tried explaining to her and showing her that they were the same except one had shorts attached, she wouldn't go for it and was adamant that her costume would not include a jean skort. So, at this point I am like OMIGOSH - because we have no other choices - at least that I was aware of.

So Allie pulls this unfamiliar jean skirt out of the depths of her dresser and says she wants to wear this one because its really cute. I admit its really cute and so we put it on - thankfully I am confident we can resolve this issue and move on with our morning (we still had to eat breakfast and it was now 8:30am and she likes to be at school by 8:40 so she can play on the playground even though school doesn't start till 9am). She puts the skirt on and it was atrocious - I have never seen so many wrinkles and creases in my life (it was a very cute skirt that had white lace as an under layer of the skirt - so it was kinda like that Hannah Montana layered look that my daughter loves). I attempted to iron it - it did nothing. But there was no way I could let Allie wear this skirt, WHAT WOULD ALL THE PARENTS THINK OF HER MOTHER WHO LETS HER CHILD WEAR A WRINKLED SKIRT WHILE PERFORMING IN A PLAY NO LESS??

So I told Allie she couldn't wear it as it was wrinkly and looked messy and not appropriate to wear in a play. She told me that it didn't bother her and it looked fine and who cares if someone else thinks it looks wrinkled.

By this point in the morning, I was less focused on whether she had a point or not and more focused on the fact that why couldn't she just say okay and wear what I wanted and move on with our day. I tried negotiating with her more and the more I tried, the more she was adamant on wearing this skirt. So, I lost it. I shrunk down to a 5 year old level and said "Fine - if you want to look messy and shlumpy when you are in front of lots of people and have them wonder why you are so wrinkled looking then fine, you wear it, I'm done".

Then she burst into tears and we are now at 8:37am.

Then she came storming out of her room in the original skirt and while she no longer had the wrinkly skirt on, was she happy? No - she was upset and crying. Was I happy? No - I felt 2 inches tall. I did what I swore I would never do with my child - make a big deal out of clothes and put my insecurities as to what will people think of me as a parent on to her. At that moment I remembered exactly the clothes arguments that my mother and I got into growing up and how yucky I felt inside when she was short and sarcastic with me. And years later, I don't remember what clothes I wore or didn't wear, but I sure remember those awful episodes with my mother making me feel awful about how something looked on me when in reality it was her wondering what other parents would think of her if her daughter walked around looking the way she thought I looked.

At that precise moment, thankfully my husband came into the kitchen and went over to Allie and had a beautiful talk with her and next thing I know she was the big person and came over to give me a hug and said she was sorry.

I gave her the biggest hug in the world and told her I was sorry too and I didn't mean to make her feel bad and that even though I was frustrated, I shouldn't have talked to her that way. She started crying again and told me it was okay but that I had hurt her heart. Oy. I gave her a really big hug again and said I loved her and I was sorry her heart hurt and thankfully she went over to the garbage and pretended to throw something away - I said what are you doing? She said throwing her "sads" away.

Not only do I always hope she can continue to get rid of her "sads" so easily, but more importantly I hope I think twice when I get frustrated the next time and remember that my words and tone can be pretty powerful to this little 5 1/2 year old girl and is a wrinkled skirt really worth a mom being mean and making her daughter's "heart hurt"? I think the answer is probably not and its up to me, the adult, to figure out a better way of handling it in the future - because have no doubt, there will be another frustrating moment or two to come. . .

But rest assured, the day went on beautifully from there. My daughter's class performed wonderfully at their play. Allie was so excited because not just mom was there, but Daddy was able to come (she thought it was so neat because he came "in the middle of his work day" for her) and so was her Godmother. Then she went to her new gymnastics class where she did great - it was a lot harder, but she was happy and is already learning a front handspring and started working on a back handspring!

1 comment:

Kelly said...

A great post Meryl. It is nice to have a gentle reminder about how our children can be easily hurt by what we say. Just the other day I "snapped" at one of my twins to share with her sister, yet she had already done so. I felt so bad as she pouted and turned her head away from me when I tried to talk to her. I love that your daughter throws away her "sad" items - I'm going to teach that one to my girls too.
Kelly Damron