So, I want to expand a bit on the Lola Misbehaves at the Dr’s Office thing from this morning’s post. See, that was only ONE of the many instances of Lola’s misbehavior yesterday (and it wasn’t even the most noteworthy.) It’s always the most fun when they do it in public, though, isn’t it?
Anyway, I really feel like I’ve turned a corner on the discipline front. That incident yesterday confirmed it for me. Even a month ago, if she had acted like that, I would have started a shame spiral full of self-criticism and self doubt: what do I do wrong that my kid is so naughty? My embarrassment and disappointment may have driven me to treat her overly harshly. Or to be semi-paralyzed for fear of further judgement. But yesterday I guess I was just too stressed out to bother with all that crap.
I did take stock of the situation as I drove us home. What did I do wrong in that situation? I do this a lot when Lola misbehaves, after I’ve calmed down from my frustration, I try to figure out where I went wrong. So I can maybe do better next time. And the answer came back to me: Nothing. I didn’t do anything wrong. Good kids misbehave. Kids who are parented really well? They still misbehave sometimes. They’re kids. Every instance of Lola not acting exactly as I want her to is not an indication of failing on my part.
This might seem like, “Well, no kidding,” to many of you. But it was a revelation for me.
When she started to throw a whiney fit that morning because she couldn’t have candy, I didn’t get all snappy at her; I just knelt down and explained to her why we can’t eat candy whenever we want to. And she was good with that. And when, later that afternoon, she threw ANOTHER whiney fit because she couldn’t have candy (it’s a common occurrence since the Easter bunny visited), I did get a little snappy. But I didn’t beat myself up about it. Her whining about candy is not evidence that she’s a naughty kid; it’s just normal, human, 3 yr old behavior. My snapping at her was not a big fail; it was normal, human, mom frustration. I told her I was sorry, and we moved on.
It’s a work in progress, this acceptance of the idea that misbehavior is not indicative of either of us being big, fat failures. I read Sillyliss’s post this morning about shopping with her daughter and riding the escamalator, and I thought, “that sounds like Lola. Except Lola would totally not shop with me without driving me to the brink of insanity with all her running off and hiding in the clothes racks and other assorted shenanigans.”
And then I decided that was just fine. We’re working on the discipline thing. Both of us. We’re practicing. We can’t expect to just be good at it without practicing.
And furthermore, Lola is Lola. Maybe some kids are just naturally more … orderly. And maybe she’s just not one of them. So she’s not a natural follower? That’s not really a bad thing. And that mouth? It will serve her well when she has a sincere and reasonable objection to injustice or peer pressure. I mean, it should hardly come as a surprise to me that I would have a daughter who speaks her mind.
Now maybe that’s a copout. Maybe the perfect parent would be better at keeping Lola in line. Maybe Lola would benefit from that. I certainly have my shortcomings when it comes to discipline. And parenting in general. But I’m the parent she got. And I’m really trying! That counts, right!? Lola’s not complaining. The other day, she helped me make cupcakes, and afterwards, as we took turns licking the beater, she told me, “you’re my best friend, momma.” She’s a wonderful kid, so I seem to be doing okay so far. And if she colored on the wall with her crayon yesterday, well, that’s just a rite of passage, right? One of those things that all kids are hardwired to do? I cleaned it up, and I didn’t even sit around thinking about what I did wrong to cause that behavior. Progress!