One of my favorite topics of conversation amongst our friends is our worst parenting fails. Not the ones where someone actually gets hurt or stems from any sort of malice, but just the everyday “whoops” that are funny. Most of mine revolve around not having good judgment about what “fun stuff” is appropriate or safe. This is usually when Brian isn’t home as he has far better judgment than I. For instance, the time I let them play with a big bag of baking flour (outside, but still – I was cleaning it up for weeks and no, adding water does NOT HELP) To be fair IT WAS SO FUN!! Understandably they threw it everywhere like magic dust and covered their entire bodies and hair in it. It made its way inside and was all over the furniture and rugs – for weeks). Brian came home and was HORRIFIED.
Or the time that I let three kids (2 were mine) stab a big cardboard box with screwdrivers (I thought that assigning them each a side would somehow negate the violence in which they yielded their stabber). It got out of control almost immediately with violent stabs near all their hands (not at each other). Whoops. I had to apologize for that one for a while (and to the other mom) and the fallout sucked. When I desperately screamed at them to stop before there was an injury (realizing my mistake), I had 3 pissed kids on my hands because I had just given them a taste of something they had always wanted to do, it was the most fun 2 minutes of their lives.
Then there was the time (and this one is scary) that I wanted to turn our new castle slide into a waterslide, so I put the hose at the top of it to let it flow down. Charlie got up there and before we could see what was about to happen, he flew down, caught so much air – like 18″ off the slide, and came within inches of slamming his head against a boulder and knocking out all his teeth or worse (he was 3). To be fair, I was with two other parents for that one who also thought it was a “fun” idea, and we hired a boulder mover the next day and never did it again. We were all out of our minds terrified at the poor judgment. It was a very close call and was 100% my fault.
We joke that I need a hotline when I’m alone with them – someone to call and ask if it’s ok if they, say, use blue tape to create a matrix-style trap system throughout the second floor of our house. I mean that sounds like fun!!! Of course, the bummer is that everything that is super fun as a kid is also extremely messy. The mud party in the backyard. The time we filled a mini pool with these I’m sure highly toxic and never-biodegradable jelly balls (sorry, planet), the time I let them have a silly string fight outside (sorry, planet – don’t do this, we cleaned it up for WEEKS). The “apartment complex” we made out of 9 boxes (and I didn’t check the weather so they were all disgusting and soggy after the rain and couldn’t even be recycled). Unfortunately, but not surprisingly the consequences can make me feel like quite the idiot sometimes.
The problem is that I’m a 7 enneagram (driven by what’s fun with high enthusiasm for it) and I’m also the 4th out of 6 kids from the ’80s with very little supervision so I know what I did at certain ages, and it’s hard for me not to let them repeat the fun, even if it’s dangerous by today’s standards. FYI, I’m super strict/scared around cars, fires, and bodies of water. I don’t let them just play in the front yard without supervision and the fact that they can both swim now is the biggest weight gone (pools without gates gave me nightmares). I’m also not a “yes mom” when it comes to sugar, inappropriate TV or video games (yet), etc. See? I’m not the worst…
When You “Lose It” In A Hilarious Way
One time, when I was SO FED UP at them for not helping clean up their play attic, it’s like a demon took over my body. It was unbelievably messy, and it wasn’t the first time (duh). I was up there helping them (HOT TIP: kids can’t really clean by themselves till they are around 7-8), I put on a musical to listen to, I made it a game, I gave them specific jobs, tons of encouragement! Team Henderson! blah blah, blah – ALL THE TOOLS, they STILL wouldn’t listen to me and I just lost it. I looked around at how spoiled these kids were, how many toys and crafts they had, and how disgusting it was that they couldn’t even clean up after themselves and take care of their disgusting toys that they got because they are so spoiled. Of course, I’m mostly mad at myself for those things, I lost it. But I didn’t know how to get their attention or “lose it”. How does a hipster parent who doesn’t believe in corporal punishment get their kids to listen to them??? I didn’t know!!! So in my fit of rage, I picked up one of their favorite stuffies – the one that was closest to me and f***cking CHUCKED IT so. hard. at its “bin”, violently, like with my whole body. I may have audibly screamed/roared while doing it. They both started bawling, ran to me apologizing then I started bawling and apologizing and it was quite the family moment. I even apologized to “kitty cat” the stuffy, who wasn’t hurt because it’s a stuffed animal, but she didn’t deserve to be the victim of my parent temper tantrum.
We talked a lot about our feelings that day, what signs of frustration are and now it’s like a cautionary tale – like don’t let me get to the “stuffy” point. Days later it was actually hilarious and I know that many of you are thinking “that’s what you call losing it?” But it was terrifying to them because it’s not how I usually lose it (usually bursting into tears) and when your parent acts totally out of character kids get scared. I also realized afterward that I was on a round of steroids for an allergy-related asthma attack at the time, so I actually think I had roid rage, which makes it even funnier.
Desperate Things We Say??
What about the time that I was so frustrated about them not listening that I showed them footage of military schools and while I didn’t tell them that we were going to send them to one, I implied that most parents would if their kids didn’t listen like this. They started crying that we were going to drop them off, that they wouldn’t live with us anymore and they were SO SAD. We felt AWFUL (Brian was in on that one, it wasn’t planned but we just let it get out of control together).
What about the time where I was so tired, so exhausted that I offered Charlie $20 to put him and his sister down (I think they were 3 and 5). I was totally desperate and serious. He said yes at first but as you can imagine no, my 5-year-old did not put himself and his toddler sister to bed.
I could actually go on but I’m starting to feel, you know, shame. So it’s your turn – it can be anonymous, but I think the world needs to hear more parenting fails – not the serious ones where someone actually gets hurt or worse, but the hand in the face ones where the kids aren’t necessarily scarred but you learned something about yourself and you have a funny or crazy story – you know, like me and my poor “fun judgment”. But seriously there is a hole in the market. We need a ‘”Is it ok if my kids do this?” hotline? …