You Only Hurt the Ones You Love
“I hate you and I am not your daughter!” she yells at me on the street.
Option one: laugh.
Option two: sit on bench and wait for tantrum to play out, and Twitter about how hilarious she is.
Option three: pick her up and throw her in car and forcibly attach seat belt and listen to wailing all the way home.
Then she kicks me. Well, that changes the whole dynamic doesn’t it? My four-year old is now hitting out-of-control territory and I’m standing by waiting for the next level of hysteria. And here it comes: 3,2,1...
“I hate you!” and she dissolves into tears.The people on the patio are starting to stare. The old ladies are especially disapproving, as if their kids never had a tantrum in a public place. The young girls prancing by in their mini-skirts and feather earrings are double checking that they took their birth control this morning.
And the other moms are giving me those “I’ve been there” glances, except that one with the perfectly behaved adorable twins, she is looking a bit smug.
I feel the sweat start to prickle the back of my neck and the aggravation bubble in the pit of my stomach but I will not give in, just yet. My outward appearance is calm, by tone is clipped but understated. “Honey, I’m sorry but you absolutely have to put your pants on before we go into the store.”
Such is life as a parent.
Sometimes your kids lose it, you blame yourself, you fear for their future and then you move on to your next crisis.
I try not to let that constant feeling of aggravation reach the surface and turn me into a screaming banshee. In fact, I pride myself on keeping it together (outwardly anyways). As this article suggests, sometimes I find myself on a time-out in the bathroom (that is why they have locks!), sometimes I am deep breathing while reminding myself not to take things personally. Or conversely, that it is personal -- that when your kid loses control and lashes out at you it is because you are safe and they trust you. It is a counterintuitive sign of affection. They aren’t going to yell “I hate you” at somebody who might lash back with equal vitriol (except a sibling). They can only really yell at someone who will say: “I know you are angry with me right now, and that is OK. I love you.”
And then we go home and I double-check that I took my birth control.