I would love to be one of those go-with-the-flow moms who can let routine and schedules and bedtime go out the widow on a whim just to see where life takes you.
I am not that mom.
Summer brings out the worst angst for those of us who hold tight to the hope of an early bedtime and daily routine. The Fourth of July is a perfect example of this.
We got an invite from one of the families at Mikey’s school that lives on a nearby lake to come over to watch fireworks from their house. It sounded like a great time and it was so nice of them to invite us.
But this is what immediately started to run through my head: The fireworks start at dusk. And dusk isn’t until almost 9 p.m. And they probably won’t be over until 9:20, 9:30, 9:40 p.m.? And then we won’t be home until 10 p.m. And Mikey will be all riled up and won’t get to sleep until at least 10:30 p.m. And the next day is a work/camp day…
I want to embrace summer and warm, late nights and watching fireworks from the tailgate of the truck and eating s’mores… but also, bedtime… Bed.Time.
So, instead, we put Mikey to bed at his normal time and Mike and I enjoyed the sounds fireworks from our living room. The kid can embrace fireworks when he gets older.
I also never wanted to be one of those yelling moms.
You know the ones – you can hear them three aisles over at the grocery store screaming their kid’s name, or on the other side of the playground telling their kid to stop doing something, or simply at home hollering at their child to pick up their toys or their socks or their books.
That’s me. That is 100 percent me.
There was a time that I started the day with the whole “gentle parenting” vibe and gradually lost my temper until I only yelled at the end of the day.
Now I just start the day yelling.
It begins with simply getting out the door for work and school, or now, summer camp. My husband as more patience than I do, so he can often make it through the morning without raising his voice, but there’s little hope for that being the case for me these days.
“Mikey, put your shoes on.”
He spins the keychain on his backpack.
“Mikey! Listen to me. Please put your shoes on.”
He continues spinning the keychain on his backpack.
“MIKEY! Do you need to go to the ear doctor? Put. Your. Shoes. On!”
He shoots his eyes up to me, wounded, as if I haven’t been standing by the door for 10 minutes waiting for him.
He goes to school/camp just fine, and – interestingly enough – the teachers say Mikey listens very well there. Imagine that.
But the yelling continues when we get home. “Mikey, it’s time for your bath, pick out whatever toy you want to bring in.”
He rolls around on the floor, aimlessly.
“Mikey, come on. Bath time. Get your toy and go to the bathroom while I start the water.”
He continues rolling around on the floor, looking at the ceiling.
“MIKEY! Get in here and take a bath or you’re going right to bed right now!”
Then he comes scurrying in. “Momma, why are you raising your voice?”
It’s not that he’s a terrible listener, per se, it’s just that he seems to be in his own world a lot of the time and he simply doesn’t even flinch until I am yelling.
So, as a result, I just skip over all the niceties and go straight for the yelling. Sometimes I even get sick of saying my own son’s name over and over again. Is that terrible?
One thing I love, however, is when the roles are reversed and my husband loses his patience. That happened the other night.
I could hear him through the monitor putting the child to bed. “Mikey, come on, let’s put your pajamas on… Other foot, buddy.”
“No, other foot… Other foot.”
“Mikey… Please don’t make me yell.”
“MIKEY! OTHER FOOT!”
And then of course when my husband emerged I told him he shouldn’t raise his voice at Mikey. I mean, he’s only 5.
Holly Crocco is editor of the Putnam County Times/Press and mom of a 5-year-old. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.