Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bad Mommy Day

This is a guest post from my friend Susie.

Today was one of those days. You know, the one where you're like "Please remind me why I signed on for this?" Not that you need to remind me, I already know the reason. It is the highest calling. I know this.

So today, I picked Ethan up from school and he told me how good he was, his teacher even gave him a special gift for showing such great behavior. I was very pleased. I have seen him make tremendous improvements in the last few months. Anyone who knows Ethan is aware of how busy and precocious he can be. And his energy level is through the roof. He is also very obstinate. Which makes for a challenging child, and my patience is tested every day. When Ethan was two he ran away from me constantly. It didn't matter if we were in a mall, airport, restaurant, Walmart,or our house. I resorted to putting latches on the tops of my doors, just to keep him safe. In public places he would find the nearest exit and make his fearless getaway. Recently he's gotten a lot better, although I've found him outside our house on the sidewalks a few times. We live on a busy road, and I've practically beat the dangers of running in the road into him.

Anyway, he asked if I would take him to McDonald's playland for lunch because he was so good. I agreed and we went. I noticed he started misbehaving after about a half hour, so I told him it was time to go home. I through my tray away, and when I turned around I couldn't find him. I figured he climbed back up into the playset. I called for him, no answer. I quickly walked through McDonald's, no Ethan. I went back to the playset, and the crappy part was that it's so difficult to find your kids when their up in that thing. There were tons of kids up there, so I just called his name hoping he would come down. After about 5 minutes or so I started panicking. Another mother caught on to my anxiety and offered to help. We looked around McDonalds again, we went outside etc. I seriously was about to call the police. This McDonald's was right against State St. in Lindon, which is a monster of a road. Horrible scenarios were going through my mind, and I was loosing it. After what seemed an eternity (probably about 10 minutes...maybe less) a lady came in the playland and asked if anyone was missing a child. She said there was a little boy in the Smith's parking lot behind McDonald's playing with rocks in the middle of crazy lunch hour traffic. I was hysterical, and went running outside with Lilly in my arms(perfect little soul). There Ethan was, happy as a clam, with no clue of what danger he was in. I grabbed him and we went in to get our bags from McDonald's. I'm sorry, but I couldn't help myself. My emotions were through the roof. I was literally pulling him and yelling "You scared Mommy to death, you could have been killed!!". You could have heard a pin drop in that McDonald's. All eyes and ears were on US. I could have cared less. I was so hysterical, I WANTED to beat the crap out of him (of course I didn't). But I did publicly chastise him. And I spanked him hard on his bum before we got in the car. I wanted him to be embarrassed, and shamed. I was so angry I was shaking. Ethan is a smart kid, and a boy ahead of his age in many ways. They've put him in a class with 5 year olds at school because he talks like he's 20. So, it's hard for me to remember that he's still 3 3/4.

So, here's where the advice is needed.

What would you have done?

I took his lovies away when we got home, and he went straight to his room, all privileges gone for the rest of the day. I also feel bad because the talk given in Sacrament meeting last week was about controlling your temper as a parent, and I feel I lost mine today. But honestly people, I was enraged because he could have been killed. I would appreciate some good mommy advice right about now.


AzĂșcar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AzĂșcar said...

I probably would have done the same thing. I usually judge the punishment based on the severity of their actions added to how much remorse they are feeling.
When Guille ran away a few months ago, when he was found he was sobbing and really upset. Obviously, I didn't spank him and we just had a conversation about what had gone wrong. However, if he had been defiant and not upset, my reaction would have been different to underscore the danger of his actions.

compulsive writer said...

I hate offering advice--especially after the fact--because I am not exactly the paragon of parenting virtue.

However, I will say I think it's OK to show kids how their choices affect other people. You articulated exactly why you were angry--you care about him and you were scared. He got the message and that's a good thing.

I'm glad he was OK.

Monica B. said...

I agree, there is nothing wrong with loosing your temper a little when your kids are in danger. If it makes a big enough impact maybe they won't do it again.

Kathy's Korner said...

I think so too. I try hard to follow the love and logic principles. But there are times, like what you described, where I think showing some good old anger is a good thing. They need to know some fear. A lesson in empathy if nothing else. What he did was life threateningly not OK. He needed to know and understand what he did was very very very wrong!! If is "scars" him....GOOD! maybe he won't do it again and live a long and healthy life out of the danger of playing in streets!

~j. said...

I also subscribe to Love & Logic, but when it comes to them endangering their lives...well, that's when the spanks come out. We don't live on a busy street, but if my kids step into the street, they get a swat on their bum(s) -- because that is a behaviour that is serious and potentially life-threatening. (Also, they KNOW it's serious since I don't spank on a whim.)

You're a good mommy, Susie.

Queen Scarlett said...

I wish I had advice. I would've acted like you. I didn't breath during that massive paragraph - I'm a fast reader. I swear there have been times that I just clench my mouth and shake my fists the little 3 year olds can do things to scare the s*** out of me. You are a good Mommy. I think random folks in public thing I'm a mean Mommy - I get stern/firm when we're in public because... there are so many unknowns. I just don't give a damn what strangers think... my kid's safety is my job.

Two year olds have NOTHING on Three year olds.

ahna said...

Gosh, if that isn't just about the worst situation to find yourself in. It's happened to me, too. I also shouted at my daughter. I was scared and angry and wanted her to "get it." Who cares if another person looks at you sideways. Obviously, you're not just shouting randomly at your child - as another parent might be want to do. There was a reason for your outbreak.
We finally had to resort to taking away big things - like going to a friends house, or going swimming with the family... What ever event that was next in our family was the one that she lost the opportunity to participate in.
It was hard, because the other 2 girls got to go with one of the parents. When the date came for the event to be missed, we would remind her that she was not allowed to go because she lost the privilege due to previous bad behavior. This usually resulted in a 20 - 30 minute temper tantrum. However, after this happened 2 or three times, she finally started to listen.It was the only thing that really made a difference in how our daughter behaved.
Good luck. This is an awful situation to be in.
Good luck.
PS Could it be a power play on his part...? Is he testing to see if you will come running? Maybe don't shout or react in any way the next time this happens, but simply pick him up and go home where he gets to spend time in his room.
I do know this - it's got to be a stage. He won't be doing this when he is 18 years old. :-)

Caroline said...

Man, I feel for you. I think you did what you needed to do, and that's that. You can't go back and change it, so don't feel guilty about your actions. What he did was dangerous, and he KNOWS it, but chose to do it anyway. You're a fabulous mommy. and on a sidenote: Do I care more what some stanger thinks? Or do I care more about what my kids think? Kids win about 99% of the time.

Angela WD said...

I think you did exactly the right thing. Though you lost your temper, it registered with your child that this is a serious issue. Sometimes it's ok for them to see our emotions, this leaves an impression with them. I think the spank is a good physical reinforcement at his age, and then restricting him from privileges underscores the seriousness.

As a mommy myself, if I was at that McDonalds I would have been silently cheering you on. As I'm sure they all were, too.

sara said...

"Letting him have it" right there in public was definitely the right thing to do. I think the consequence has to be very immediate when they are 3 (I have twin girls that will be 4 in January -- as well as 5 & 7 yr olds).

Love you guys' site. Helps so much to know that I'm not the only one who loses it from time to time...

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Shellie said...

Oh my gosh, this post was sort of like reliving many many days in my past. I can relate to every felling and action on both your part and your boy's! My worst day was even worse. I publicly chastised my child (verbally, no name calling, crude language or anything, just angry) for a similar fright and got told off for "abusing" my child. Ok, even though I was angry and frightened I was also trying to sound livid so as to scare the kid into getting to the car without "disappearing" again. Sort of blew my cover when I had to explain myself and assure Mr. Overvigilant that my child's life was not in danger. I am scarred for life. Count your blessings it went that well. You're a good mommy, because you do worry!

Jill said...

I am raising that exact same child! He is 7 now, but I can't tell you how many times he has scared me into a panic. We have dealt with everything from having him hide from us at Costco, to leaning WAY too far over the wall at the Grand Canyon.
I think you did the right thing at Mcdonalds. If I was there, I would have been dissapointed if you had done anything less. (And as for the people staring when he's acting up, I have a great line. You just tell them "He takes after his father's side of the family".)
We don't struggle with our son running away anymore, now it's more of a power struggle over homework issues. He is very academically gifted, but refuses to do the schoolwork.
Just have consequences for his actions, and be consistant. This is the only thing that halfway works for us.
You are doing a great job! Don't doubt yourself!