March 29, 2014

Stop Hitting Yourself Again!

I’ve gradually come to the conclusion that being a parent is 99 percent making it up as you go along. The remaining one percent is sleep, if you’re incredibly lucky. If not, that one percent is insomnia.

My children—a son and daughter—are four and three years old, so they’re at that precious threshold when they don’t care if Dad loses his mind, so long as they get their way.

I have particularly defiant children—said every parent throughout human history—and my children simply won’t follow instructions. They exhibit the following characteristics:

n My son hates when people sing.
n My daughter hates, well, everything.

Those characteristics can present challenges enough just on the home front, but when we take our children out in public, those characteristics can be downright mortifying.

My wife and I recently tried enrolling both our children in the same pre-school class. It’s not an intense learning class, but there are occasional intervals when the children are asked to sit in a circle, with a parent, and sing little learning songs. And I believe I mentioned my son hates when people sing, and my daughter hates, well, everything.

My wife insisted I take the children to class the second week, and the look on her face said “you’re in for a real treat!”

One of the first things I noticed when I entered the classroom was that I was the only father present. One of the other things I noticed was that none of the mothers had more than one child present. This should have tipped me off right away.

The first half hour of “class,” basically consisted of the children playing with whatever toys or project caught their attention, and if there’s one thing my kids love it’s being able to do whatever they want, so that first half hour went brilliantly.

And then. . . it was time to sit in a circle and sing. I later referred to this transition as “The Happening.”

My son, sensing singing was imminent, ran out of the classroom and was halfway down the hall before I had even stood up. To prevent that from happening again, one of the teachers closed the door, which prompted my son to duck into a small, plastic toy house, where he repeatedly slammed the door shut over and over while yelling “STOP IT!” to the kids singing in the circle.

My daughter, on the other hand, simply refused to sit in the circle, and instead was intent on playing with a little race track toy that had her completely enthralled. When I attempted to pry the toy from her and sit her in the circle with me, she started to throw such an epic tantrum, all other tantrums look to that tantrum for inspiration. Among other things, she started slapping herself in the face and yelling “OUCH!”

So, there was the scene. The lone father, trying to wrestle with his tiny daughter, who kept wriggling her hands free so she could slap herself and yell “OUCH!” Meanwhile, across the room, my boy was sequestered in a plastic toy house, slamming the door and yelling “STOP IT!”

I swear I could actually feel all the mothers—with their single, angelic children—vigorously passing damning judgment on my complete apparent lack of parenting skills.

Thankfully, the next day I witnessed a mortified mother swoop after her son to stop him from urinating in a drinking fountain.

So, that made me feel a little bit better.

Posted by Ryan at March 29, 2014 09:48 AM | TrackBack
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