Yesterday we took the day off school and work and went to Adventure World. It’s a thing we do every year; making family memories and all that.
In the morning while Leigh was out buying a hot chicken, I decided to get the kids to do some pre-Adventure World housework. Surely they’d be so excited and grateful to be going to a theme park rather than school, I thought. I’d take advantage of the time we had and get their help straightening up the house.
But when I asked them to do the breakfast dishes I was met with a whole lot of whingeing. Epically bad whingeing and complaining and a lot of, “that’s so unfair” and, “she’s not even helping.”
The whingeing triggered a mild mental breakdown. I started ranting about what a privilege it is to be able to go to Adventure World, and how ridiculously ungrateful and entitled they are. I told them if they did not get on with the chores with no fuss, I would send them to school and go to Adventure World on my own.
“Don’t test me, kids. I will do it,” I bellowed. “And for the next 15 years when we take you to Adventure World, you will remember that Mum means what she says because that one year, she dropped you at school and went on her own…”
I was actually really fuming. A little voice in my head was telling me to calm down, but it didn’t seem possible.
I get that way sometimes. I start thinking that I’m parenting all wrong and I’ve stuffed them up for life, and I wonder, what have I done that has led them to be so entitled and ungrateful? Surely this is not normal? I think my insecurity and panic causes me to yell. And then I find it hard to stop. I can hear myself doing it, and I think, “pull yourself together, woman. This yelling isn’t making a scrap of difference.”
But it’s hard to listen to the calm rational voice when the kids’ eyes are rolling so far back in their heads you can no longer see their pupils…
Seconds after my tirade was over, having just spelled out the dire consequences of misbehaviour, the eldest flicked a tea towel, pinging another sister in the back. The sister screamed and burst into tears. The screaming set me off again.
“That’s it! “Put your uniform on! You’re going to school!” I roared at the older one. I grabbed her school clothes and chased her around the house.
“No, Mummy! Please no! Give me another chance,” she begged, running out the front door.
I didn’t want to drop her at school. I like her a lot and I wanted to ride the Kracken with her. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do when I caught her in the front yard. I hadn’t thought that far ahead.
Leigh pulled into the driveway and sent me to my room to calm the heck down.
After I had calmed the heck down, we held a little parent meeting:
Me: “Are we raising the least grateful children in the world?”
Him: “I’m not sure. Maybe we are?”
Me: “You’d think a couple of dishes would be no problem considering the day we have planned. What are we doing wrong?”
Him: “Yep, I hear ya. But you’ve gotta calm down.”
We went off to Adventure World and they were fantastic kids and we had a brilliant time.
But as soon as we got in the car to go home, one of them hit the other, and then she hit her back and then they were both crying and screaming so loudly, I said they couldn’t go to Youth Group.
Parenting is hard.
P.S As is my habit, I showed Leigh this little essay before posting it. He got to the end and just laughed.
Me: “why are you laughing?”
Leigh: “Because there’s no resolution. No point to this writing. You usually have an answer or something encouraging to say.”
But that’s the point here. I don’t really have any answers. Sometimes parenting just seems like; doing your best, making a whole lot of mistakes, and trying to do better.