Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Epic mothering fail

Today I stopped the car and shouted at LittleBear, "do you want me to get you out and leave you here?"

Yes, I actually did that.

Maybe I should give a little background to how I got to that position.

Actually, no, first, I should reassure you that I didn't leave my three year old by the side of the busy road. And for those who like to skip to the end of the book to make sure that everything ends happily, we had a big cuddle and everyone stopped shouting and crying.

Back to the background. LittleBear didn't sleep brilliantly, what with the coughing (again! always the coughing) and losing his comforter in the night and needing Mummy to find it, and the birds and sun waking up early and waking him up. And if LittleBear doesn't sleep brilliantly, chances are BigBear and PhysicsBear don't sleep brilliantly either. I think I may have mentioned that I'm not very nice when I'm tired.

Once we'd finally managed to wrestle LittleBear into getting up, going for a wee, getting dressed, eating breakfast, playing, having his teeth brush, put his socks back on again, shoes on, coat on, into the car about two and half days an hour had passed, and my temper was an hour worse than it had been when I got up, and it had been pretty lousy then.

LittleBear quite likes to have a snack in the car on the way to nursery. That would be the snack that comes in between breakfast (at home) and second breakfast (at nursery). It's usually a little rice cake, or maybe a rich tea biscuit. I know, I spoil him with such extravagant treats.

Mistake number 1: there were only a couple of little rice cakes left, so I passed LittleBear the packet forgetting about all the rice cake shrapnel and dust in the bottom of the packet. You know where all of it ended up don't you? That's right, you're thinking more clearly than I was, it ended up all over LittleBear and the car. I didn't discover this feature until later however.

Then came the biscuit.

Mistake number 2: playing along with LittleBear who was telling me that his half eaten biscuit was a boat, I suggested he show the boat the river as we drove over the bridge. Naturally he dropped the biscuit, at which point the world ended.

Then came the tears.

Then the coat was wet around the collar. There are few things prone to make LittleBear cry more than having his clothes wet. Even the faintest trace of moisture requires everything to be ripped off immediately.

Mistake number 3: I suggested (at this point rather forcefully, perhaps even in a tone that some might call shouting) that LittleBear unzip his coat so the wet collar wasn't touching him. "I can't", he wailed whilst unzipping his coat, "it'll never dry, it'll stay wet forever". [I feel like pointing out that this is the same conversation we have every single time any item of clothing gets wet, and no matter how many times something does dry, we have the same performance the next time.] Now the coat is open however... "my shirt is wet" It'll never dry, it'll stay wet forever". Rashly I suggested that if he stopped crying his clothes wouldn't be wet. Apparently that was not a reasonable suggestion.

Mistake number 4: I explained to LittleBear that I couldn't reach his dropped biscuit, so he had a choice. He could wait until the next village, where there was a place I could stop to get the biscuit, or he could have a new one. As far as I could tell through the sobbing about the unacceptably wet clothing, he asked for a new one. I gave him a new biscuit. It was a whole biscuit. This was wrong. He wanted half a biscuit. I broke the new one in half and gave it back. It was too small. I took the small half back and gave him the big half. It was too big. I told him he could eat one of them or have nothing. "But then I'll be hungry! And I'll never have anything to eat ever, and I don't love you". Wow, that one spiralled quickly.

Mistake number 5: By this point I was yelling at LittleBear to stop crying if he wanted this shirt not to be wet, to either eat a biscuit or not eat a biscuit, and mostly to shut up. (And yes, I was told "that's not a kind thing to say".) To nobody's surprise, the more I shouted, the more he cried. Yay.

We finally reached the layby where it's safe to stop, so I did and it was here that I uttered the fateful line, "do you want me to get you out and leave you here?".

Gulps and a pitiful shake of the head... and I shamefully realise that I'm supposed to be the grown up. I'm supposed to be the one who can control my emotions. I'm supposed to be leading by example, not shouting, not yelling, not threatening, not being unkind. I get out of the car, and go to find his biscuit. And my poor little boy thinks I'm about to get him out of the car and leave him. Instead I find the fall-out from the rice cake packet. You remember the rice cake packet? The one that he turned upside down and thus shed a small mountain of slightly sticky crumbs everywhere? Not quite calm I still manage to say (in my mother's voice, I swear) "you stupid child! Look what you've done!"

Mistake number 6: (you didn't think I'd run out of mistakes to make did you?) I get LittleBear out of the car, so I can take his dangerously damp coat off and clear up the abominable crumby mess. Now he really thinks I'm about to leave him, and telling him I'm just taking his coat off doesn't appear to convince him otherwise.

And that is how I ended up sat on the pavement, enfolding my precious boy in the biggest cuddle ever, rocking him back and forth, stroking his head and murmuring sweet nothings to him to assure him that I do, did and will always love him, even if sometimes I'm cross. And maybe to some of you that was mistake number 7, maybe I should just have kept driving and ignored him. Maybe I "gave in" to him. But he's my LittleBear, and I'd been in the wrong, and I'd shouted at him for being nothing more than an over-tired toddler, and in my world there is nothing more important than being sure that you're loved, and I will do anything that it takes to make sure that he grows up knowing that my love is total, unwavering and unbreakable. And leaving him at nursery today was almost as hard as the first day I had to do so.

"Mummy? I love you. When I said I didn't love you, I didn't mean it"

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