Chalk up a mommy fail for me this morning.
After we had dropped my kindergartner off in class, I realized I had left her library book on the passenger seat. So I asked my second grader if she’d like me to take her to class first, or go with me to get the book. She had 10 minutes until class, so my second grader opted to go with me.
I told her that she would wait on the sidewalk, and I would run to the car to get the book. When we got to the sidewalk, I placed my hand on her chest, and said, “you stay here.”
Then I checked the cars before I crossed, and quickly made my way to my car. In the morning, the drop off sidewalk, and the cars driving straight through, out the parking lot, is a crazy mess.
I reached my car, opened the door and saw my second grader run across the street to my car. My heart dropped. I was simultaneously freaking out, and furious. She could’ve been so easily crushed by three cars that had just driven by her. Panic surged through my blood.
Still in shock, I retrieved the book, and immediately began to question her.
Why didn’t you listen to me? Why didn’t you stay on the sidewalk?
I don’t know.
What do you mean you don’t know?
I told you to stay. I put my hand on your chest so you would know to stay. Why didn’t you stay?
I don’t remember.
How can you not remember? What do you think it means when I tell you to stay on the sidewalk, and I place my hand on your chest to show you to stay?
I didn’t hear you.
How could you not hear me? I told you what we were going to do before we walked over here. Then I told you to stay, and I placed my hand on your chest to show you.
I then launched into, asking her how we cross the street every time. Each time I have told them to hold my hands, or stick right by me. This time, I didn’t do that. I did something different. I told her to stay, and I placed my hand on her chest so she would physically know to stop moving. I was trying to understand where the communication break-up was. I was trying to figure out if she just willfully ignored me. Let’s face it, they mostly ignore me unless it’s about treats, or outings. Otherwise I swear, I am white noise. It is infuriating.
I explained how scary it would’ve been if she had been hit. That I would be beside myself, that it would be painful for everyone. I told her that when I tell her not to do something, it’s for her own good. My job is to protect her from things like getting hit by a car. I can’t protect her if she doesn’t listen.
As I went on this panic-fueled tirade, because really, that’s what it was, a frustrated tirade. I kept hearing that voice in my mind, to calm down, to stop. It told me to pay attention to my daughter’s body language. I noticed her shut-down, and saw the remorse in her body, but I didn’t listen.
I didn’t listen because I was too scared, too upset, too frustrated, too disturbed, too wrapped up in my own body’s emotions. I should’ve listened.
I stopped my tirade when I saw tears falling down her face. I felt ashamed. I, like her, was so consumed with what I was feeling, what I wanted to do, I didn’t listen. I should’ve realized how nervous she might have been to cross that street without my hand. I should’ve thought that sometimes, when you have your mind set on a particular task, goal, sometimes, all the things you’re told that goes against those wishes, tend to easily filter out of your mind. I should have realized she was as terrified as I was.
Yes. She should’ve listened to me.
BUT, as her mother, I should’ve listened to that soft-voice in my mind that wanted me to be wiser, more patient, and to simply, stop and listen.
I should’ve given her that reassuring hug first, not after she cried. I should’ve told her how glad I was she was safe, how much I loved her, and how worried I was first, not after my tirade.
Sometimes we’re so caught up in our emotions, and the moment that we do impulsive things that can create risky situations.
It’s humbling when I remember how alike my daughter and I are, in the lessons we need to learn.
I’m sitting her typing this, wishing I could take her out of class and just spend the day apologizing to her. I’ll just have to do a good job when I pick her up this afternoon, and work hard on my listening skills.
ps. There’s a great leadership article from Forbes that gives great tips. Sometimes we need to stop, and listen. The article is geared towards business leaders, but I think as parents, there’s a lot of good information, and habits we can use in our daily lives as well. Or maybe, just me.