Perhaps I should have been calmer when my ten-year old daughter had a meltdown about an assignment this morning. I knew in my head that I wasn’t helping with the situation or my daughter’s mood but my reactions were human. As parents we are expected to illustrate the behaviour we wish our kids to display, which sometimes means swallowing our pride and apologizing.
In my mind I was not at fault with the problem. My daughter, not happy with something she had done for school earlier in the week, panicked about it not being perfect. It didn’t help that we were heading out the door right at that moment. I tried to reassure my daughter that this wasn’t the end of the world, that she may not like facing the teacher with the work she had completed, but in the back of my head I was thinking about how late we were going to be, that my younger two kids would have to interrupt their classroom’s morning routine when the lateness had nothing to do with them, that now we had to drive instead of walk.
I tried to offer solutions but each time my daughter had an excuse. I was annoyed and wanted to just get out the door, end of issue.
To spite me, my daughter refused to pack her lunch, leaving it in the car. Of course being the level-headed mom I am, I refused to bring it along, to give it to her. I told her I wasn’t going to bring it back to school when she called later regretting her decision. I was going to show her.
She didn’t care and walked on.
It was a somber walk to the school drop-off. She went in without saying good-bye, talking to her friends as though nothing had transpired that morning.
As I walked back to the van, calmer now that everyone was in school (and we weren’t late), I went over the outcome of the morning’s events. I still think my daughter was in the wrong and I was only trying to help but I could have stopped the situation from spinning out of control. I knew my daughter would calm down too, realizing that her reaction was over the top and regretting her decision of not to grab her lunch. I envisioned her reliving the terrible morning again in her head, as the other kids ate lunch and she was without.
So I grabbed her lunch from the van and walked back to school to drop it off. I found a scrap of paper in my bag and made a simple apology note with no words on the front (so her friends wouldn’t know what it was about should she take the note out of her lunch bag). I felt better writing the note, telling her I loved her no matter what disagreements we might face. I can only hope reading the note has the same impact on her.
Sometimes being a parent can be frustrating, watching your kids make mistakes, worrying about trivial things (which I know aren’t that trivial in a pre-teen’s mind). Sometimes we loose our cool, even though we know we’re suppose to be a solid rock and supportive. Parents are human and I think it’s okay that our kids see us this way but they also need to understand we’re sorry for our mistakes and actions. It’s hard saying sorry but it’s even harder if we let bad feelings stew. Show your kids that saying sorry isn’t just something kids do but it’s something parents have to do too.