One of the most challenging responsibilities that I have ever willfully chosen to take on has been becoming a parent. There is nothing in this world that can simultaneously bring you more joy and make you want to bang your head against a wall than your own children. The best example I can give of this is my favorite story involving my daughter and it sums up the child rearing process in a nutshell. When she was about 2 years old I walked into the living room to find her drawing on the living room wall. We only gave them washable crayons, so it was not a huge deal, (Parenting Tip #1 – ONLY buy washable crayons) but I wanted to let her know that this was not the appropriate place to draw. So, I calmly and gently told her that we do not draw on walls and I offered her some paper. I went to the kitchen to prepare snacks for everyone and when I came back out I found her drawing on the wall again! So once again, I very calmly and gently explained to her why we do not draw on walls and showed her the things that were appropriate to draw on, such as paper, dry erase boards, chalk boards, coloring books, etc. She seemed to get the point this time so I returned to the kitchen feeling proud of myself for maintaining my calm and loving demeanor. As I finished preparing snacks, I placed them on the dining table and went to the living room to round up the troops to come eat. (Parenting Tip #2 – Don’t forget snack time! Children are like Gremlins. It can get ugly if you let them get hungry!) At this point I’m sure you can guess what my daughter was up to when I returned to the living room. This time I made the conscious decision to speak in a much sterner voice and I said, “Mila, I’ve asked you not to draw on the walls please. If I see you drawing on the walls again, I’m going to take your crayon away.” Upon hearing this, my daughter looks me straight in the eye and without ever breaking eye contact with me, reaches over and draws one more line on the wall …..then hands me the crayon and walks away!
Needless to say, I was speechless. I had all kinds of conflicting emotions running through my brain. On one hand I was furious, but on the other I was kind of proud of her for the flair with which she expressed her defiance. On top of all that, how could you not laugh at a little person displaying such an attitude. …..AND I was probably late with the snacks and I know that transitions are difficult for children, so asking her to stop doing something that she was right in the middle of without helping her transition was asking for a bit too much from a 2 year old. Thankfully, I know this. I know this because I speak to other parents and my wife has participated in countless “Mommy and Me” groups and we’ve been in several toddler programs. Trying to be the best parent you can be can be extremely stressful. Parents need support and education and to be able to share their experiences with other parents who understand what they are going through. I think that OOTify will be an invaluable resource for parents to connect with other stressed out parents or even therapists who can support them in the impossible task of raising children.
So, if there are any parent’s out there, share your stories and frustrations and let’s lift each other up and help each other through this wonderfully stressful thing called parenthood.