Saturday, December 17, 2011
This too shall pass..... right?
God, I hope so. Sara and I are in Minnesota to see my niece, Molly, dance in the Nutcracker. I have been looking forward to this for months for many reasons. First, my niece is an amazing ballerina. Second, I knew Sara would adore seeing her cousin dance in a 'real show'. Third, I thought it would be a chance for Sara and me to spend some quality time tougher. Getting to Minnesota was an exercise in frustration, which Sara handled like a pro. Because of time differences and airline incompetence, she stayed up way too late. Always a bad idea. Today, Sara had fun playing with her cousins and was entranced by the ballet. After the show, she congratulated each dancer with a poise and politeness that made me proud. Things went downhill at dinner. I gave her a couple chances because she was over tired. But when she started picking fights at the table with her cousin, I knew we were on thin ice. I pulled her aside, chatted with her about choices, manners and proper behavior. I threw in a warning for good measure. Stop fighting, calm down, and behave or we will leave before our food is served. She chose to ignore my warning and go Varuca Salt/Willy Wonka on us. I did what all the experts and parenting books tell us to do. Carry out the threat and leave. Embarrassing and mortifying? To say the least. Learning from past mistakes, I controlled my anger and remained calm. I told her that I am sorry that she was so over-tired that she chose to lose control and force us to leave. She was not surprised that I carried out my threat. I'm usually pretty good about keeping my word, for better and worse. She was quiet for the drive to back to the hotel but maintained an indignant air. She really fell apart when she realized that leaving abruptly caused us to lose any chance at a proper goodbye with our Minnesota relatives. I explained again that this was all her choice through her actions. I also made her write apology notes to my dad and brother's family. (Not sure if that has any effect on her)
What really drove it home for her was what happened back at the hotel. Instead of yelling or lecturing, I told her to put on her pajamas and read quietly. I did the same thing. I could feel her glancing at me frequently. She was probably waiting for a lecture or a scolding but she knew what she had done and I wasn't interested in hearing excuses or justifcations. I think the cooling off period was more effective and beneficial for both of us. My dad returned to the hotel later with our food. We ate while he kept us company. My dad is not one to 'parent' our children. He raised his 6 kids and he is retired. But, he did speak up about her behavior and choices at dinner. He told her that we all love her and we were sorry that her actions caused the evening to turn unpleasant and end abruptly. I think the fact that even my father was upset by her behavior struck a chord with her. I was relieved to turn the light out, go to sleep and put an end to the evening.
Today was a million times better. She got up and dressed without a squeak. She ate breakfast and traipsed through the airport like a trooper. No whining, talking back or sassing. When we changed planes, she stopped soldiers and thanked them for their service. When she saw a female soldier in line for food behind us, she thanked her then asked me if we could buy her a cookie. I thought that was a brilliant idea. She travelled through 3 airports, 2 airplanes and waited in multiple lines without a single complaint.
I know as a parent there will be good days and bad days but can't the good days outnumber the bad ones???