I had one of those last week.
It was sort of a perfect storm: cranky kids, dinnertime, and a strange letter from the company that manages our IRAs. And, I’ll admit it: a less-than-patient mom.
First, the kids and I ate dinner. Or, more specifically, my son and I ate dinner. My daughter pushed the food around on her plate. Once she advanced to pouring her drink onto the table and putting her uneaten food in her cup, I knew dinner was over. Additionally, the whininess level was in the red zone. Since the weather was good, I sent both kids outside. We had about 15 minutes until bath time—we were amazingly running ahead of schedule—and I figured the best way to handle kids whose listening skills were questionable was to have them play outside.
With one eye on the kids, I opened the mail—a notable achievement, as quite often the mail sits for days before I can tackle it. A strange letter about our IRAs, though, distracted me, and I made my first mistake: I called the 1-800 number for help. What I thought could be rectified by the first customer service representative in a few minutes, had to be looked into by two subsequent people, requiring repeating the same story three times and eating away at the good will that 15 minutes of being ahead of schedule had delivered to me.
My daughter, meanwhile, kept running inside to shout something at me, giggle, and run back outside. I couldn’t make out what she was saying the first time. Or the second. But, by the third time, I caught on: you’re dumb, she said. And, then, there was the fourth time inside. You’re dumb. Laughter. And, back outside.
On hold for the third (Or fourth? Or fifth time?), I had had enough. Irritated and with the phone in my hand, I strode onto the deck, picked up her pink and purple tricycle (yup, that’s in the photo), and threw it off the deck. Down it fell, 20 feet onto our back yard.
The instant it left my hand, I knew I had screwed up. The tricycle had nothing to do with my daughter misbehaving. I hadn’t set a good example by throwing a toy off the deck. I had over-reacted. I was, essentially, throwing a tantrum of my very own.
My daughter burst into tears. My son sat on his ride-on toy with his mouth wide open. Likely he was wondering if his toy was safe. I sent them both to their rooms. My daughter, as befits her strong will, protested and only begrudgingly moved. My son sped faster than ever before into his room, pulling beloved stuffed animals along with him—just in case.
My husband walked in the door moments later when I was finally off hold, and the IRA mess was resolving. I summarized the situation quickly (G was misbehaving. I threw her tricycle off the deck. Yes, I know it was wrong. The kid are in their rooms.), and he, to his credit, never once gave me a hard time. He didn’t, after all, need to make it worse for me; I knew I had messed up.
The tricycle was fine, thankfully. (Those Radio Flyers are well-built.) The kids were, too. It helped that I owned my error.
Mommy made a mistake, I explained to them both. I shouldn’t have thrown G’s tricycle off the deck. I was upset that she said unkind words and wasn’t listening to me.
Mommy, said G, I’m sorry. But it made me sad when you threw my tricycle off the deck.
It made me sad when you said unkind things and didn’t listen, I replied. But I’m sorry I upset you.
Hugs and kisses followed. All was ok.
My son, on the hand, nailed it: Mommy, said R., you shouldn’t get so mad.
Out of the mouths of babes and all that.