I had one of those moments this morning. You know, the ones where you do or say something to your child and instantly regret it and then go on to torment yourself with the memory of how crushed they looked for the rest of the day?
I was 45 minutes late to work this morning, something I’m certain both my children have a special sense for that they use to do evil instead of good. I gave in to the last minute cries for juice and the desperate need to wear a specific pair of socks that, of course, I had to search the house for, but by the time we arrived at daycare I had reached my “no more nonsense” point.
I hurried them into the building, my son with his backpack, my daughter with her pillow pet tucked under her arm, and me carrying a blanket for nap time later for each child. As we were walking, Anders asked if he could have the blue blanket today. “Why not!” I said. Only, when we arrived in his room and I placed the blanket in his cubbie, my 2-year-old began to cry hysterically. She too had her heart set on the blue blanket, though it is likely that desire came on the moment her brother expressed interest in it.
Late and panicked, I asked Anders if he could please settle for the other blanket. He was reluctant.
“But you already said I could have the blue one.”
“I know, but you are a big kid and sister is crying. You don’t want her to be sad do you?”
He handed me the blue blanket and put the other one in its place, but not without first making the saddest, most disappointed face I have ever seen on him. He was crestfallen and it was all my fault.
On my hour-long commute to work I had plenty of time to relive that moment and I did, along with many others that have occurred since Danica joined our family.
“Be quiet! You’ll wake the baby!”
“Go ask daddy. I’m feeding the baby right now.”
“I know I said we’d watch your show next, but just one more episode of Sesame Street. I don’t want your sister to cry.”
“I know it’s your turn, but just let her play with it for another minute. She’s a baby and she’ll forget it soon and it will be all yours.”
One of my biggest fears during my pregnancy with Danica was that I would somehow fail to parent them equally. The thought of either of them feeling like I played favorites tormented me and, in many ways, that fear has proven to be unfounded. I am not playing favorites. I am being a lazy parent.
There, I said it. The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?
You see, I didn’t give my daughter the blue blanket because I love her more. I gave it to her because I didn’t want to deal with the ensuing tantrum and in doing so I teach her she can get what she wants by throwing a fit and I teach my son that his happiness is second to his sister’s.
I recognize this as one of my biggest parenting flaws and going forward I’ve made a conscious decision to change it, migraine inducing 2-year-old temper tantrums be damned.
Do you have a parenting flaw you know you need to correct? Let’s get it all out in the open. Shall we?