Monday, January 2, 2012

My hardest day yet as a parent

Wednesday is always a trying day. Our normal routine is thrown off a bit for Ruby's dance class. This means naps, meals, cleaning up, etc is all put on hold to get into dance attire and to class on time. I am glad she is in this class. It is great for her socialization and she gets to see old friends from school...normally this is a minor interruption.

The Wednesday in question had been a great day, 70 degrees and dry in December. We were taking full advantage: me, the girls and the dog in the front yard playing. Ruby rode her tricycle, Sailor got some sun in her exersaucer, Chopper chased squirrels, I did a little reading. It was nothing short of a perfect early afternoon. We came inside for lunch. We all ate in the den, quality time was abundant and I cleared the table and did the dishes. The ride to dance was fine and Sailor and I came home and tried to get a few things done at the house.

In fact, everything was rosy until class was over. It started with not wanting to leave dance. Ruby was sitting, shoes off, in the classroom. Her flip flops and ballet shoes were in a bag and she was holding her tap shoes. I asked her to put her flip flops on, put her tap shoes in the bag and get ready to go. She said no and threw her tap shoes at me. I told her we don't throw things at people at people and did she want to go to time out. Usually the threat of time out is enough to get her back on track but today she was fearless.

Things escalated, I asked her again and told her not to say no to daddy and asked her again. She threw her bag at me. I told her I was going to count to three and if she didn't do what I asked, she was going to be in deep trouble. The three count came and went. At this point, I was wearing Sailor face forward in front of me in the Baby Bjorn. I scooped Ruby up on my left shoulder and grabbed her gear in my right hand. I walked firmly out of the room and back to the car telling her what trouble she was in. My mood was sour and Ruby started saying she wanted to put her shoes on and walk. I am quite certain she could tell that this was not going to be pretty for her.

On the way home we had a good talk about why she needed to listen to mommy and daddy, that we asked her to do what we did to make things run smoothly and easily and often to ensure her or her sister's safety. I told her we had her best interests at heart and would always look out for her. I also told her she was going to time out when we got home, as promised, and that she was going to have to nap with no paci and no blanket. This is when she really started to come unglued.

Hysterical, I had to carry her inside. She cried even harder in time out. When it came time to lay down for her nap she was exhausted from an active day and from sobbing. I laid her in bed and she begged and begged for her paci and blanket. I did not relent. Ruby laid in bed, inconsolable and unable to sleep for more than half an hour. She came out of her room, crying and reaching up for me. I held her, head on my shoulder, and rocked her in an attempt to calm her. I made sure she understood why she was being punished.

She did not get a paci or her blanket for the duration of nap time. She also did not nap and eventually found comfort in the arms of her mother, certainly the good cop of the day who was able to give the paci and blanket back once nap time was through.

I'll never forget how brokenhearted and empty I felt listening to my child's sadness and desperation. That said. I also think that my inability to yield makes me a better parent. We have not had an incident like that since that day and oddly I feel closer to my daughter now than before. I never want to go through that again but as a realist, I know that in the coming years there will be days just that hard...and harder. 

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