Long before I became a mom, I was in Target with my best friend and her two little crazies. They were 17 months apart and all boy. And I was a HUGE expert on being a mom. Especially being a mom at Target. This was odd because I wasn’t a mom yet. But never the less, I HAD IT TOGETHER.
Kim ran off to the bathroom with her youngest, and I was left with the 2-year-old. Who immediately began wailing. So I looked at his little cheruby face and told him to “dry it up.” Which he did, and I high-fived my own self. Moments later, he began to cry again. At which point I told him again to “dry it up” and promised him he could only look at the toys IF he did so. A promise I’m sure Kim really appreciated because looking at toys you have no intention of buying is a really awesome mom move and never results in an “I want that now” tantrum.
Years passed and I doled out awesome advice here and there when needed to other struggling moms. Stuff like, “Your kid whines? Just do what my mom did. When she whines tell her you can’t understand a whiny voice.” Things like, “Don’t give them consequences you can’t or don’t want to follow-up on. Always always follow up on the consequence.” And “disrespect will never happen in my house.”
Then I had children. Four of them. Four different kids. With different wills and different needs.
I realized those children were humans. And not robots.
Do you remember that show “Small Wonder” from the 80s? Well if you don’t, you are probably a Millennial and I forgive you, it’s not your fault. Anyway, Small Wonder was about a very creepy robot girl name Vicky whose “parents” passed her off as a real girl. This was actually really stupid because for several seasons she wore a weird red checkered dress everyday and also straight up talked like a robot. Anyway, I think a lot of times we expect our kids to act like Vicky. Like perfect weird robots.
When they assert their own will, instead of applauding them for being humans and showing us their personalities we 1. get offended. 2. embarrassed. 3. Try to control them.
So blah blah blah. Who cares? What is this blog about anyway?
Hey mom with the crazy kid,
First of all, your kid probably isn’t crazy. They are just acting crazy. And isn’t that an occasional ailment we can all identify with? I know I can.
Your child’s crazy behavior at Target is not always reflective of your parenting. You are (hopefully) doing the very best you can and sometimes working against forces of nature you can’t control: genetics and personality. Sometimes you can control it, but the day just didn’t go your way: sleep and diet (hello vacation crazy, what’s up, I know you well). Sometimes, let’s be real, it’s your fault: your kid is out at 10pm and that’s just a recipe for crazy, ain’t no denying it.
Every freak out.
We have a couple of choices. We can respond congruently. It’s ok, it happens sometimes. There’s grace enough for that. Practice humility and apologize.
OR we can use respond with patience and love AND then use our children’s mistakes to shepherd them. My mistakes from childhood are in many cases the indelible moments that initiated growth: the time I lied, the time I failed 3 algebra tests in 7th grade, the time I gossiped and it came back to bite me.
The mark of good parenting is not necessarily mistake avoidance. Let’s not confuse control for good parenting. Often, it’s what we do after the mistake or tantrum or meltdown that matters.
Here’s the deal. NO MATTER WHAT-you’re gonna get judged, Mama. I am your typical first-born people pleaser and getting judged NEVER EVER gets easier. Just remember, people who judge either haven’t had kids yet (and most people eventually get humbled), or they just plumb forgot what those blurry little kid years were like.
However, we can be the change we want to see. When you see another crazy kid in public, encourage the weary mom. Because we know, she’s probably just doing her best.
Also, let’s rejoice in the fact that your strong-willed, assertive, opinionated child, though challenging right now-will do great things one day. Hang tight, Mama with the crazy acting kid. It’s ok. You’re doing a great job. Your value is NOT wrapped up in your child’s behavior. Stay strong, keep learning, keep shepherding and guiding your kid. And remember that all the other moms of crazy kids are on your side.