Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The "hitting" incident

It’s rare that I have to come down really hard on the girls.  It is.  I know I come across as the cranky, mean parent.  I kind of am cranky.  I’m not a completely freaking ray of sunshine most of the time.  I do get frustrated easily… anyway… Over the course of the past 6 years we haven’t had many “big” trouble incidents.  Last night was one of them.

Larry’s in Chicago for the day with work and he expected to come back late which is fine.  Funny though how most things like this tend to happen when Larry’s not around.  Maybe it’s some form of parenting kismet.  The afternoon had cruised along pretty easily, the girls were tired from camp so they were just chilling on the couch after dinner.  Olivia and I had our usual run-in over food.  I know common parenting logic says that you shouldn’t make a big deal out of it because you will create eating disorders later in life.  My logic says that my child not eating is indicative of something deeper.  So I push, and I push, and I push.  Olivia feels that’s she not getting enough attention and that one way to retaliate is to by ignoring something I put a lot of effort into.  She’s a smart cookie.

So we’re all on the couch on iDevices.  I realize it’s almost 8pm - give them the quick heads-up that they need a bath.  So I go start the bath.  Olivia comes up and joins me - which is cool.  Then Louise follows.  Now the girls don’t generally bathe at the same time.  It seems to be coming a bit more common so I’m not really sure what’s going on there.  Again I am not really rock the boat though - saves me time sitting on the bathroom floor keeping them company.  They also both decided to wash their hair.  Now the funny thing here is that Olivia particularly doesn’t like washing her hair… I normally have to force that issue.  Recently nope - she’s washing her hair every couple of days.  So Louise and Olivia are in the bath.  Now it’s a normal sized bathtub and I should have foreseen something was going to happen.  Parental ESP and all that.

So something did happen.  The bathtub is getting to be a bit too small for two kids to lay side by side.  So the next thing is the argy-bargy, the she touched me, no she touched me, she got water in my face and whammo - Olivia hit Louise.  So Olivia gets hoisted out of the bath given a towel and marching orders to brush her teeth, hair and get straight into bed.  Now for the first time in her life she complained that she hadn’t washed herself… seriously! 

So Olivia has her pajamas on and has brushed her hair and teeth, is in bed and she cops the lecture.  Now we have a couple of golden rules in this house - one is no hitting.  So it’s not a small lecture, it’s not the I’m upset that you hit you sister.  It’s the I’m disappointed in you.  Now I get to a 5 (nearly 6 year old) the gravity of things isn’t quite apparent.  We got there eventually.  The clanger though was when I did the channelling my own parents - the “I thought I was raising you better than this.”

Now ordinarily this probably wouldn’t be so much of a problem.  However the girls share a bathroom that separates their bedrooms so Louise overheard me saying “I thought I was raising you better than this” and she took that to mean that I was raising Olivia better than her.  Cue favoritism drama - so I have one child upset because she’s gotten the lecture and didn’t get a kiss and a hug good night (I’ll come back to this) and the other one is upset because she thinks I favor her sister.

So I have to put that little fire out.  One of the things I really love about the English language is the diversity and breadth of expressions.  There are just so many cute and interesting sayings.  One of the things I dislike about the English language is that you have to try to explain to children who don’t quite have the same understanding of the language you do what these expressions and sayings mean.  So I spent the time explaining to Louise that I was disappointed in Olivia and I thought I was doing my best to raise kids that don’t hit.  So that was sorted out.  

Meanwhile Olivia is having a meltdown in her room because she didn’t get the hug or the kiss.  That was hard for me.  When I was having the talk to Olivia about what punishment she felt was suitable - none really felt that they would lend themselves to the gravity of the offense.  Taking her iPad away for a day is pointless because she still has the TV… so I thought if I just tucked her in and said good night and walked out that would do it.  Now I am not a complete monster - there is one thing that I have always tried do to with Louise and Olivia and that is leave with them a smile or a laugh when they go to bed.  So I went back in and had a quick chat to Olivia and told her that I forgave her and explained that I get angry too, I react to things without thinking them through - it’s human nature, I don’t hit people though.  I tend to say TV words - the really bad ones!  That gave her a bit of a laugh.   I gave her a kiss and a hug, told her I loved her and said good night.

There’s lots of things about parenting that I find hard.  I’ve spoken to people before about the fact that I try to be the perfect parent (which I know isn’t possible).  With situations like this I worry if I have done the right thing.  It was all a bit stressful for me… now in the past I’d unwind with a few drinks (probably a few too many) - these days I unwind by folding laundry and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.  The ultimate outcomes are that my kids know that I love them, the boundaries were enforced and my sanity prevailed.