As parents, we do what we need to, to simply get through the day. Some drink a much needed glass of wine after a long day of diaper changing and toddler chasing, some find solace in a good book once the babes are put to bed. As of lately, I have resorted to mental score keeping in my head. Why this helps me I may never know. If I gain a victory by making my kids happy or disciplining them in a satisfactory way I visualize ‘1 point for mom’ and in turn if the kids best me at the grocery store and I give in to getting them their favorite sugary treat it is ‘kids 1, mom 0’. Sadly, I feel it was a great day if the kids only end up a few points ahead of me when I sit down and tally up our scores at bedtime.
Today was going on a particularly good day, I was even up a few points as my son (The kids’ team star player) was at his friend’s birthday party, so I only had to contend with Sophie, who isn’t great at one upping me in the points department anyways. I was feeling victorious, and this minute conquest in my mind was enough to make my day. This day; everything was coming up Lindsay.
My Husband gets home shortly after Lars, and because my day is going so god damn well I have supper on the table and the house spotless. My hopes are high for the rest of the evening. As we all sit down for dinner, I quickly see my triumphs slipping away. Lars pushes his plate of steak stir-fry violently away, “I no eat this!” He says in a tone that derives pure irritation. I calmly rebut,
“Yes you will Lars, there will be no treats until you eat all of your supper.” The blank look on my sons face would have been enough to make me shriek any other day, but I had built up some patience with the calm of these last few sunlight hours. “If you do not eat your food Lars I will take down the blanket fort in your room. And it won’t go back up until you eat EVERYTHING on your plate!” I will admit my tone at this point is getting a little heated, and the threat of losing his beloved fort in his room sends my son over the edge. He crumples dramatically to the floor in a sobbing rueful heap. The volume only increase and his tears are endless. I watch the spectacle only for a moment before I make my way towards him to bring him to a much needed time out.
With great effort I drag his floppy four year old body towards our ‘time out’ corner and sit him there, all the time his howling never to relinquish. I let him cry it out for a few minutes while I finish my dinner, then go back to try and speak to him about his actions. I am still feeling as though I am doing fairly proficient in the ‘points’ department though.
“Lars you have to eat your dinner, you need to eat if you want to become big and strong.”
“NO, I NO EAT!!! Clearly he has not calmed down. I desperately try to think of a different avenue of approach. AHA…Bribery, works every time!
“Well don’t you want a cinnamon bun, you could have one if you eat your supper.” Positive Bribery is what I am going to call this.
“NO NO NO, I NOT HUNGARY!” This throws me for a loop, and any bit of composure is lost.
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU’RE NOT HUNGARY? YOU HAVE TO EAT LARS, THIS IS REDICULOUS!”
The next words that came out of my practical, sensitive, and oh so sweet sons mouth were ones that halted my continuation as a ‘winning’ mother.
In a gasping ‘trying to get my point across’ sort of way, Lars bellows out between snivels, “I just…ate pizza….a-and…cake at…the b-b-birthday party…” Leaving behind a trail of sobs and snorts, probably thinking I was going to force feed him despite his jam-packed belly.
In this second I have several things fly through my head; ‘How the hell did you forget he had just ate pizza and cake?’, A stereo typical game show host yelling at me in a unnerving fanatical voice, “AAAND THE WORST MOTHER IN THE WORLD AWARD GOES TOOO, MRS. LINDSAAAAY BRRROWN! COME ON DOWWWWN, YOU MEAN MEAN MOMMY.” I think about how I have most definitely lost this round of score keeping, and finally I realize that, while score keeping is captivating, when a fail of such great proportions occurs and ones score plummets to an untraceable depth, it really takes the satisfaction out of it.
I make amends with my bemused and perplexed son, explaining that ‘Mama forgot he had ate with his friends’ and that I was sorry. I reassure him that his fort would not be taken away and that in a little while if he got hungry his dinner would be there for him to eat, after which he could have a cinnamon bun if he’d like. He seems happy enough with the completion of the situation, I although am left with a pit of contrition stewing in my stomach.
I don’t think will carry on ‘Score Keeping’, It is one thing to feel proud of yourself at a job well done; but for that, I can just look towards the children we are raising and admire what kind and superb little individuals they are growing into.
And As I open this bottle of wine and curl up with a good book, I find respite in the fact that tomorrow is a new day. A new day that will bring all sorts of new-fangled exploits, waiting to be dealt with in some original awkward way.