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Posts tagged with Parenting Fails

The Day You Realize They’re Paying Attention

HJ NOT eating her broccoli

HJ NOT eating her broccoli by Megan Spreer

It’s not the proudest day in a parent’s life. It’s also not one of the ones that make you want to call up Grandma and Grandpa to share. But it’s a day that happens to the best of us and is what keeps us humble when we think we have this parenting thing down.

I’m talking about the day you realize your child is paying waaay more attention to what’s going on around them than you thought. This can come in many forms (from stories I’ve heard) and each parent’s realization can be quite different.

Lucky for the not-so-observant folks at my house, our realization was as subtle as a Mack truck.

Aaron and I have struggled with the transition of shifting our conversations and television entertainment to more toddler-appropriate topics. After spending the last two years with a tiny person who couldn’t speak or understand most sentences, it’s hard to change your habits. I mean, her attention span is so short, is she REALLY paying that much attention?

OH yes. She is.

The other day we were having dinner. It was just a typical evening at our house. I set down HJ’s plate of food and her sippy cup of milk. As I was walking away, I heard a thud (obviously her milk tipping over) and her tiny voice say:

“Ahhh, damn it.”

If a tiny, two-year-old voice saying that phrase in correct context doesn’t move you to side-splitting, laughing tears, I just don’t even know how to relate to you. It was the funniest, most horrible thing to ever come out of my toddler’s mouth. And because I couldn’t laugh about it in front of her, it made it that much more hilarious.

So of course, I did what every responsible parent would do in that situation: I left the room with my shoulders shaking violently and tears rolling down my face as I tried to stifle my giggles.

She continued to go about her dinner as if nothing happened.

Once the humor subsided, the dread set in. We chose not to acknowledge what she said because she’s very much at a stage where she does many undesirable things solely for the attention. I totally stressed out that she’d be THAT kid at the next play date though. I didn’t say such things until I was in third grade and in the safety of the unsupervised part of the playground at recess! How will this child turn out if she’s saying it at two? TWO?!

We totally failed. This is what everyone was talking about when they warned us about them being tiny sponges.

Thankfully, our tactic of ignoring it has so far worked and since the incident, she’s never said it again. We’ve shifted our adult conversation to more kid-friendly vocabulary and are better at waiting to watch our TV shows after bedtime. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

But... is it bad that I’m kind of proud she used the word in the correct context, at least?

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They’re okay, despite me.

As we return from Munogate (thank you to my friend Emily for naming last week’s drama), I didn’t want to dismiss what was said in the comments because I think it’s something that should be addressed. Yes, my parenting style is different from most people's. My personality is different. I find the differences to be something to celebrate as it makes us each unique in our own way and as a result, raise unique children. Thankfully, I can brush myself off and let insensitive remarks and attacks on my character fizzle away.

A day or so after I wrote the post, I was reminded of something that happened recently at our house. It really helped me keep things in perspective and has continued to be my life raft when all hell broke loose this weekend after both girls came down with a cold.

B is currently going through a “I’d rather gouge my own eye out than take a nap” phase. Also, because she’s now very mobile, we’ve had to move her usual napping post in my husband and my bed to her own crib. Which as a baby who co-sleeps at night, she is obviously super thrilled about this change. (There is a great need for a sarcasm font.) Add in the changes with her diet, growth spurts, and her continued war on sleep in general, this has all been the perfect cocktail for creating a tiny, angry dictator.

One day in particular in the past two weeks, I was having an extraordinarily difficult time getting Stalin — er, B to sleep. AND OF COURSE this had to be the day that HJ also decides to dip her fingers in the Scentsy burner, poop in her third pair of big girl undies of the day, and give me a loud play-by-play of The Lion King as I’m trying to rock B to sleep. My patience was a thin, transparent sheet of ice. After I finally succeeded in getting B down after an hour of shooshing, bouncing, and rocking, I was tip-toeing out of her room and silently closing the door when HJ yells “I JUST CAN’T WAIT TO BE KING!”

This, of course, wakes up B who lets out a terrified and ear-piercing wail. I couldn’t even stop the anger as it bubbled over and spewed from my mouth. I lost it. I went off. I yelled. And I used words HJ is not allowed to say herself.

Obviously, it was my finest parenting moment. I felt like a troll and the worst mother ever.

I re-shoosed, bounced and rocked B to sleep as I listened to the silence in the other room. My heart was breaking for HJ and I was so ashamed for what I said and how I said it.

Once I made a clean escape from the again sleeping baby, I returned to where HJ was and sat down in front of her. I apologized. I hugged her and I kissed her wet cheeks. In addition to the I’m sorrys, I also made a promise to do better. Before I could continue, she did something that shocked me.

She climbed into my lap, grabbed my face in both hands and looked me straight in the eye. She said, “I forgive you.” Then she wrapped her arms around my neck and squeezed.

This two-year-old girl had never said those words before, nor did I even know that she understood what the phrase meant. But she did and she said it.

It was then that I realized that maybe I’m not screwing this up as bad as I thought. My children were turning out okay in spite of my bad days and shortcomings. I know I’m not a perfect mother. I don’t fit into the perfect mold of how probably anyone views what a mother should be.

But I am trying to do my best. And so far my best is turning out some pretty fabulous little people.

So there’s that.

Me and HJ

Me and HJ by Megan Spreer

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