It is one of the normal aspects of parenting that, despite being deeply committed to facilitating a wonderful childhood, there are breakdowns. One looks back and thinks about how something could have been handled with more love or more wisely.
Tonight was such a night.
Wanting, of course, to make a fun weekend for my girl, we invited her ten year-old friend and her sister who is twelve over. I set up a tent for the three of them out back. Then we shopped for desserts.
I happen to be on a kick of not eating sugar for 90/100 days. Tonight, I decided to use one of my sugar days and, of course, proceeded to eat too much ice cream.
The night wore on.
They were having fun, but as it got later, my girl started to get a little whiny. This is unusual for her and not dealing with such an attitude is not my strength as a parent. Shortly thereafter, the girls were in the tent playing by flashlight when they started screaming about a spider, laughing, collapsing in a pile, trying to unzip the tent and exit with no disregard for the tent. It seemed to me they were going to rip it, and it really annoyed me as I interpreted it as over-dramatic and disrespectful to the person who lent us the tent. I snapped at my girl for being so out of control.
Me – “You have to stay calm and deal with things, not panic and freak out.”
Later, I apologized. And, again the next day I said I’m sorry. She said something that was very humbling.
Her – “You should have been more helpful when I was scared.”
I am, after all, the person she has always been able to count on, day in and day out, her entire life to help her feel safe and to give her a stable and rich quality of life. But I got off course for that night.
Wondering why I had had such a stern reaction, I realized that all of this had been proceeded by ingesting a stock pile of sugar.
To take care of my girl the best I can, I have to take care of myself the best I can first.