Taking Credit For the Good Stuff: Owning Your Kid's Positives (Not Just The Negatives)
I made a Target run with my 2 kids today. My son (not quite 2 and a half) was a complete hooligan in the store. He had just been to the pediatric dentist (don't get me started on that topic...), so he was irritable and was probably the worst I have ever seen him in a store. I only needed a few things, so I rushed through in between some public-friendly scolding such as: 'sit on your bum in the cart' and 'no screaming in the store' and 'no, I didn't bring you a snack' when he screamed "Mommy NAAAAACK!!!!" for the fifth time.
I got some 'I've been there' looks from a few older women and hurried along. At one point I heard a baby wailing from over in the media section and thought "Oooh her kid is screaming too! I feel better', until I realized that it was sadly, just a newborn scream and moms totally get a pass for that. I calmly continued on as quickly as possible, all the while berating myself for having the worst behaved kid in the store and wondering what strict lessons the other moms employed to get their kids to behave so well. I wondered what everyone else knew that I didn't know to be able to control their kids so well. My 3.5 year old daughter was perfectly behaved in the front of the cart the entire time, but I certainly didn't deserve any credit for that -- that was just luck. The boy's behavior had to be a direct result of my inconsistent punishment strategies at home, allowing too much screen time, and my general leniency with his behavior. I wasn't sure which, but it was one of those for sure, if not all three. By the time I got to the check out line, I had secretly awarded myself the worst mom of the year award.
As I packed my kids into the car in the parking lot, a mom who I had seen in line walked through the parking lot with her 8 or 9 year old son, who was proudly carrying a big box for her. I commented on how strong he was and she acknowledged and said "Cute babies you have there." followed by "You're doing a good job mom". She must have known! Did she get an invitation to my private "worst mom of the year" ceremony??
I felt better and on the way home, I thought about how tough I had been on myself in the store. The kid just came from a trying dentist appointment and he is 2 years old - a recipe for disaster for going to the store. Although my chosen shopping time was a loser, the 3 molars he is cutting, the dental visit trauma and the general temperament of people his age, all have a little something to do with the way things unfolded. It wasn't all a result of my horrible parenting.
This got me thinking about how easy it is to take credit for the negatives but how little I take responsibility for any of the positives.
My 3 year old daughter went on a short road trip with her grandmother last summer and was very well behaved during a visit with some adult friends. One of the ladies said to her "Where did you learn such wonderful manners?" and she answered 'My mommy taught me.". When this story was relayed to me I was stunned that 1) she had displayed wonderful manners and 2) she had credited me for them! I immediately said something like "Well that's great. I don't know where she got that" and "Too bad I don't see that at home" or something equally as snide. I remember it clearly. I SHOULD have claimed it by saying "Yes, we work on that a lot" or even 'That's great to hear!", but I tried to disown it.
I didn't make any resolutions for 2014, but I am going to try to stick with this one. TAKE CREDIT FOR THE GOOD STUFF. The next time my daughter tries a vegetable without being coaxed 27 times, I am not going to wonder why. The next time my son amazes someone with his spelling abilities, I am not going to be left wondering how he got so smart. The next time my daughter walks into a room and bravely introduces herself and asks who would like to play with her, I won't wonder where she gets it from. The next time my kids are sweet to each other instead of fighting like cats and dogs, I am not going to be surprised.