It was a tough day for parenting yesterday. C decided to replace the batteries in an old truck toy. After he put the new batteries in and screwed the battery compartment shut, his expectations of working sounds and lights were unmet, and he started to escalate. He'd forgotten that the truck hadn't worked right for quite a while after having been left outside in the rain for an extended time. After an hour or so of screaming and throwing things, he finally accepted that the truck was Not Working Right, and so decided that his next step would be to take it apart and try to understand why. Except that one of the screws on the bottom was stripped and neither he or I could get it out. More escalation. More screaming, throwing things, kicking things. I'd been coping with this while trying to catch up on an enormous amount of housework and my patience was starting to wear dangerously thin. I asked him for the truck. Told him it needed to get put away for a while so it didn't frustrate him so much, and we needed to find something else for him to do. "NO!!!!!!" More screaming...and I just popped. I grabbed the truck from his hands and I yelled and I threw the damn thing into the other room. I never wanted to see it again, I wanted it to go away, wanted the screaming to just STOP.
The truck landed on the floor and promptly separated into two complete halves.
This is one of those times when walking away would have been the wiser choice. Instead I showed my son how NOT to handle your stress. I did exactly what he was doing and then some.
It does not in the least detract from the wrongness of my actions that within 10 minutes he was happily checking out the control board and the wiring and putting the top half back on and taking it back off and trying to see how the connections all worked.
I work so hard to try and keep myself calm and listening when my kids are having a hard time. I know that even if it takes a little while to ask questions calmly and listen carefully to what the need is, it takes a lot less time than it would if I simply added to the emotion and stress of the moment by trying to impose my will. I have those days, I really do. But then there are days that are so full of parental fail that all I can do is say "I'm sorry" and "I'll try better next time," and hope that I haven't scarred my son for life.
Yesterday was not a shining example of quality parenting by yours truly. Today, however, is bound to be a big improvement. They stay with their dad tonight.