A few days ago, I got three photos of my son and his oldest friend, both of whom have lost a front tooth. They're both looking very cute. Of the three, one was a keeper. I needed to delete a couple hundred photos from the camera's SD card, so I asked my daughter if she wanted to do it. My fancy camera is usually pretty off-limits, so she liked the responsibility of this job. I showed her exactly what to do, and she went for it. I noticed while cooking dinner that she had figured out how to speed through photos, but I just got her back on track with the boring job of deleting.
She said to me, "Mom, I only deleted one of the photos you wanted." I panicked. These boys are notoriously difficult to get photos of, usually running away or being purposely hard-to-get. The one 'keeper' photo I was looking forward to showing the mom and maybe printing for us. I checked the camera. Of course, of the three, the good one got deleted. I felt deflated and in that moment didn't hide my disappointment or sadness that the photo got deleted. My daughter walked to her room and buried her head in her pillow.
I came to her room and explained that, had it been an honest mistake, I wouldn't be so upset. The truth though was that she'd been 'dinking' around with my camera and photos, doing what she wanted rather than what I asked her to do. I hadn't made her do the job. I asked her if she wanted, and she did. We talked about responsibility and the importance of doing what a person asks, not just what you want to do or what you feel is best, especially especially especially if it's your first time doing a job.
I still feel sad about the lost photo but told her that I'll get over it, that another photo can be taken. Hopefully next time, she'll remember to follow directions.
Our son was eating dinner by himself while reading a library book, a graphic novel. I asked him to put the book away while eating. A few minutes later, I look over at him and see that he's still reading. I calmly took what was left of his dinner (not much) and said that dinner was over because he'd not followed my directions to put the book away. Cue the crying and moans of "but I'm huuuuungry!"
Drama ensued. It was his night to do dishes, so there was banging and crying and then on top of it all, his sister started eating the coveted bacon-cheddar popcorn, and it was all too much. In his mind, we were all doing it on purpose to torment him. I warned him to cut out the drama. He didn't, so I told him to go on to bed, 45 minutes earlier than normal. The tears and bemoaning and whining and general pissiness stopped on a dime. He stood straight, went back to the dishes, smiled and said, "It's okay, Mama, I'm okay."
These fits really are so often a choice. Sure, he feels bummed, but acting pissy is a choice. So in that moment, I had to decide. I went ahead and sent him to bed. I'd had enough. As he walked away, he let out "a primal scream" as my husband referred to it. I followed a few minutes later up to his room and we talked about decisions we make having consequences, that his decision to keep reading when I asked him not to was a choice he made and that all the angst following was no one's fault but his own. No one was set out to torment him. His sister eating popcorn had nothing to do with him. She just wanted popcorn, and I said she could have it. He was not part of this equation.
Kids are such narcisists sometimes. So often really.
He got into his bed, and I said, "I still love you, even when I'm upset with you, you know." I asked if he wanted night hugs or not. He did. He leaned on me for a long while and asked "Are you taking us to school in the morning?" Most days that's his dad's job, so there's a certain allure of the unexpected when I do it. He loves these mornings.
We all got over the drama of tonight thank goodness. Some days parenting is harder than others, but I consider it a win if I still get night time hugs.