Yesterday was a rough day in the life of Raising-a-3-year-old. There was hitting (a behavior picked up from school that is a post in itself). There were tantrums. Lord, were there tantrums. When we were leaving ballet class, I had just put the car in Drive after backing out of our parking space when Ellie emitted a scream of such volume and peril that the only plausible explanation could be that a bee had flown into the car and was stinging her in the eyeball. The suddenness combined with the horrible scream itself needless to say scared the poo out of me. All in an instantaneous rush of adrenaline, I swerved the car, slammed on the brakes, threw it into Park, whipped around in my seat only to see nothing unusual and had to scream to be heard, "WHAT IS HAPPENING??!!!! WHY ARE YOU SCREAMING??!!!"...to which Ellie replies cool-as-a-cucumber, "I want a snack." By this point, of course, ALL the moms and kids from ballet class are staring HARD at me for being THAT mom who freaks out and yells at her kids, and for extra points, happens to be an out-of-control driver. You have got to be freaking kidding me.
I really didn't recover from that moment until about 11pm. It was more than slightly distressing.
When Markus came home and offered to take them to the playground, I told him I couldn't go out while they were gone because I might not come back. I wrote an email to a very understanding, supportive and blessedly humorous friend that simply said, "If Ellie has another tantrum today, I might actually quit this job and move somewhere they will never find me. Ever."
And then this morning, I felt guilty for having been so frustrated with her yesterday for so many hours. Kids live in the present. She doesn't register the fact that she used up her week's worth of crazy by midday Wednesday. She does something and learns from my reaction. I am human (a human who sometimes has had more than enough), but I'm not really supposed to be. Argh. This point was driven home for me all the more by the fact of the hitting she's learning at school. There is one kid in her class whom I have witnessed being quite aggressive. Even her baby brother (20+ months) is aggressive with other kids when they come for pick-up in the afternoons. He has hit baby Stephanie more than once, and today he even hit, pushed and scratched Ellie! What drove home the parenting point for me is the fact that their mom does nothing. When he hit and pushed Ellie today, the mom just shrugged and said, "Hmm, he keeps doing that." Then she told him to give Ellie a hug, at which point he went in for the scratch on her face. It took me telling the mom that I would need to take my kids away to actually make her pick him up and move him away. I am stunned by her lack of behavior management. Then again, I tend to react towards the other end of the spectrum to such behavior, which isn't so great either.
Every day is a learning experience. Some days I get a better grade than others.