I find myself thinking often of my own parents these days: becoming aware for the first time of how much shit they must have been dealing with when they were raising us. But we survived , and (sorry dad) I think I’m doing a better job then they did. But not the other night. If I am a miss grumpy pants then my daughter is a junior miss grumpy pants. We arrived home from trick or treating freezing and exhausted, and my daughter was being a brat, so after several warnings about her behavior I threw away all of her candy.
Of course I didn’t really throw it away, but she didn’t know that. I regretted it as soon as it was done. She started to cry uncontrollably and scream to her father, “She threw all of my candy away, she threw all of my candy away.” It was heart breaking. I went to her later, tail between my legs and apologized. It was a bad parenting moment.
We all struggle with behavior in our house. Being polite to each other, treating each other respectfully sometimes these things elude us. We spend our days being polite and respectful. At home we can be our true selves: let every little mood shine in all its glory. I know I snap and yell and expect, in fact almost insist, that my family knows this doesn’t mean I don’t love them. It’s just me being my unfiltered self. So I shouldn’t take it personally when my children snap and yell at me.
The thing is someone has to be the grown up. We can’t all run around being our unfiltered selves. And seeing that I fit the factual definition it should be me. My behavior halloween night wasn’t very adult. My fake throwing away my daughter’s candy was really just a grown up tantrum.
We have a new system at our house: stickers and bad faces. A sticker is for being cooperative and a bad face is for being uncooperative. Too many bad faces = no halloween candy for the day. It’s a powerful tool. But it also seems slightly wrong: bribery in disguise. My man and I should be included in the system. I’ll take a bad face when I am being a snot. And I think I deserve a sticker for apologizing to my daughter for fake throwing away her candy. In addition to my advanced age, it is this ability to see and own my mistakes that me make me the grown up.