Things I’ve learned by being a hardass

I’ve kind-of-sort-of been on this new routine to get our life into some order because my kid seems to need more boundaries and rules even if I don’t.

So far I’ve learned:

1.) Scheduling eating times just teaches kids to eat when they aren’t hungry and makes me want to drink.

2.) Letting your kid work through a tantrum without intervening at your mother-in-law’s house can cause said 74 year-old mother-in-law to ridicule your parenting/non-discipline (even if the non-intervention is the discipline) non-spanking ways, which breaks your tolerance level since you were just trying to make it through one kid’s tantrum and then surprise, surprise, out of your mouth, directed at once again, said mother-in-law, comes, “Shut the fuck up, next time I’ll just throw her down the stairs, I’m sure that will make it better.” Humph! (Which by the way, that stairs part, I would never do, I just happen to be walking down them at the time.) And believe it or not, it didn’t make me feel any better just forever guilty for all the times she’s bailed us out when we were broke, homeless, pregnant and 3000 miles from home (or heat-less like we were last year and she bought us a central heating system.) Note to self. Let said 74 year-old say what she likes. Better yet, buy ear plugs before next trip to easily ignore both kickers and screamers. (And I did apologize many times for acting like a brat.)

3.) What was I thinking by stopping my birth control practices?

4.) Tantrums do not stop by expecting independence, having dinner at six, and bedtime at eight.

5.) She’s going to be who she is no matter if I argue with her, shut the fuck up myself, wear my iPod with headphones for the next fourteen years, or negotiate until we both become O.C.D. and need electroshock therapy. I mean it’s not like she doesn’t have everything she could ever possible need (oh yeah, that’s most of the problem right there.)

6.) I’m not capable of being a hardass.

7.) I’m flexible and want that from my brood of one.

8.) My temper, her temper, her father’s temper does not vanish with good great intention.

9.) When I try to not fall into the negotiation pattern but do anyway because, dammit, I want to be heard, too. We get going in a giant, never-ending circle, and she really does take on a Rain Man-kind of banter. So, keeping silent is best but so friggin’ hard I could just bust open.

10.) We need to find a middle ground — where are you middle ground? Where are you sanity? Why are we such a household full of sensitive, soulful people who take every single thing to heart? And I will never, even with every single ounce of my being intending to, be that parent I thought I would be when I first held her in my arms. That perfection of a parent. The parent I so wanted to be. Now, when I’m feeling so far beyond perfect that I need my own timeout (which we don’t do) I have to just say to myself, “Go on from here. Go on from this point and do better. I can only do what I can do. I can only take what I can take. I can only fix what I can fix. I am human.” Whew!

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2 Responses to “Things I’ve learned by being a hardass”

  1. you have all my empathy, as I have been weathering my dd’s tantrum storms for going on 4 years now. The year from three to four was hardest; she’s 5.5 now. There are definitely no easy solutions– as you said when you consider everyone’s personality and temprament, handling tantrums smoothly is not easy. We have found that we have had to work very hard on our own reactions to frustrating and bothersome stuff, because us freaking out in response to a tantrum is just not helpful to anyone.
    There is a comforting article on mothering.com about tantrums. Let me know if you can’t find it.
    Somehow I found my tantrum mojo, and for a while I felt confident about how I handled them–it was almost like riding the waves or something. Her tantrums now are a bit different, and maybe I was worn down from being calm in the face of her storm, and the past six months have been a huge challenge. I’m getting back on track again, and have done a better job of getting dad on board with the way I think they should be approached.
    Right now I’m reading the Explosive Child, which has really re-affirmed how I handle her reactions.
    Hang in there. When I’m feeling awful about how much “more” she is, I just remember what an amazing adult she’ll be.

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