It has been a really hard day of parenting. I think God must look at us (me) and think the same thing I am thinking now: “You are my beautiful creation, and my love for you knows no bounds and will never end. But your poor choices and rebellion are breaking my heart.”
I wrote this one day a few years ago when one of my children woke in an extremely foul temper. It was out of character for her; she is usually bright and chipper in the morning (must get that from her daddy). I suspect that kindergarten was just getting the better of her. It was a big adjustment for a 5 year old, and although she had made it through most of the school year, it could still be tiring. I won’t divulge everything that happened that morning, but I will tell you that a shoe was thrown and breakfast was refused. There was a lot of screaming, and I managed it calmly without raising my voice. Inside, though, I was a frayed mess. It was the kind of morning where parenting is most difficult. Her disobedience was deliberate and heartbreaking. It was a battle of wills that she was determined to win, and there was no way I could let her.
I stood my ground firmly and calmly, reasoning with and cajoling her, to no avail. As I finally handed down the inevitable consequences that she would have to face after school, I worried about her dwelling on it all day. I decided to walk her into class that day so I could give her teacher a heads up about her state of mind.
We made our way to the classroom, and I sat her in the hall with her classmates. She stiffly rebuffed my hug goodbye, so I maintained my calm manner and told her I would see her later, then stepped into her class to speak to her teacher.
I briefed her teacher on the issue, and I think I would have been fine had she responded with “Okay, thanks for letting me know” or “Well, I’m sure she’ll be fine.” Instead, her teacher put her hand on my arm and said “Oh, I am so sorry, are you all right?” That bit of compassion when I was internally struggling with keeping my frustration in check was too much. I broke down and cried right there in front of my kid’s kindergarten teacher. So uncool. I don’t remember what was said- comfort was given and tissues were offered. I just remember being very embarrassed. A kindergarten teacher should expect tears, but not from the moms- at least not after the first day of school. But I also remember being grateful for her acknowledgement that parenting is hard sometimes, and that wrestling with it is not the same as failing at it. Especially on that day when I felt like I was failing.
It is funny how that little act of unexpected kindness had such a big impact. Acts of kindness are like that. A reassuring word, a compliment, an expression of empathy or concern at the right time can go a long way. How hard is it to offer these tiny acts? Not hard at all. They make such a difference.
I waited anxiously as school let out to see how she was. She was fine, like it had never happened. I asked her teacher about it and was told that she had a great day. We went home, she received her consequences for her behavior, and we moved forward. Just another day of parenting, accented by a temper tantrum and the kindness of a kindergarten teacher.