by Aja Dorsey Jackson
I always swore I would never be that mother. You know, the one with the child throwing a tantrum at the supermarket checkout. When my daughter was small I would inwardly shake my head at parents like that and pat myself on the back for raising such a well behaved child. If you had asked me if I believed in spanking I probably would have shrugged. I didn’t need to spank my daughter because my discipline skills were just that nice.
Then my son came along and that confident, no-nonsense mother got left on the delivery table. Now I am the one trying to run through Walmart before my son has the inevitable breakdown that he always has because he hates being in the shopping cart. My son is 20 months old and whenever I pick him up from daycare or a babysitter, I always get hit with the “He’s so active” or “He is really something else” that I know is just code for “your child is bad.”
He is that right combination of very bright, active, and determined that makes me lose my mind at least once a day, usually by 10 am. He knows how to get out of his crib, his playpen, his diaper, and his carseat, so I have a hard time confining him to a space which again leads to a lot of extra stress for me. He does not care at all about a spanking and he’s too young for me just to punch him in his chest.
My husband and I argue about this on occasion. He doesn’t understand why he comes home to me pulling my hair out and says “he’s just a boy”. Yet he doesn’t have the job of handling the boy from 7am to 7pm with no break (did I mention that he doesn’t take a nap?) I am willing to admit that there have been many days that I’ve called my mother bewildered and at my wits end, wondering what it is that I’m doing wrong.
My mother says that he acts a lot like my little brother did at his age. And while my brother spent the better part of his childhood as a wild child, he has become a wonderful grown man, which gives me some hope for the future. Her suggestion is that I take him outside and just let him run until he completely tires himself out which I have been doing whenever I’m not working. I will say that fitting in as much activity as possible has been making a difference.
While I used to pride myself on knowing exactly what I was doing, I am learning that being a good parent doesn’t necessarily mean having all the right answers all of the time. Admitting that sometimes this mothering thing gets rough and that I might have to reach out for help is not same as accepting failure. We aren’t just born good parents any more than we are born good husbands or wives. We become good parents as we gain experience through raising our kids and I strive to be a better mother every day.
And remember, the next time you see a mother struggling with her child at the checkout, be a little nicer. She just might be me.
I know I’m not the only one who has dealt with a wild child! How have you dealt with unruly behavior?
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