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I almost lost my sh*t

This week has been incredibly tough. I haven’t felt well, my wife got sick, and our son has been nothing short of a ball of energy. I am incredibly grateful that he didn’t get whatever ailed us this week- he’s definitely had his fair share of illness in his two short years; however, when both parents are feeling less than 100% and the child is running at 120 mph nonstop, things get difficult. I’m sure we’ve all been there. I don’t want to fool you and let you believe that because I’m a parenting coach, things are always fine and dandy in my household. I can confidently say that that is not the case.

One afternoon this week I was picking up my son from school, and for the first time ever he wanted to walk himself out (usually I carry him to the car and put him in his carseat). He insisted on walking down the hall, opening his own doors, and helping himself right out of the building into the 110* heat. I was fine with this until he decided it was the perfect time to run up and down the ramp on the sidewalk about 50 times before then making his way to the gated park to take a peek. He couldn’t stop there though, he had to explore the dumpsters nearby and make sure that the thorny bushes by the fence were definitely off-limits. My patience was wearing thin, as the clothes I was wearing were far from it- I had just gotten off work at the hospital so I was in black scrubs attracting every ray of sunshine that existed that day.

My son was having the time of his life. He was running through the grass, up and down the sidewalk, jumping off the curb and back up, and was saying “bye-bye” to all the kids that were leaving school and getting in their air conditioned vehicles. His face was red, his head was sweaty as his hair stuck to his forehead (definitely time for a haircut), and he wore the biggest smile. After about ten minutes of melting, chasing, and “yay”ing, I told my son I was going to set a two-minute timer and when the timer went off, it was time to get into the car and go home. He happily said “okay” as he was running away from me.

After two minutes, the timer went off, I asked if he heard it, and he paused to quickly say, “no!”. I had some expectation of this happening, although the timer trick usually works in our house, so I already made up a bargain deal in my mind. I offered to take him to the park down the road if he got in the car, so that way he could continue to play but we could be semi-shaded. He immediately shot this idea down, because obviously the small school entrance and first few empty parking spaces were much more fun than a fully equipped park (slides, swings, ramps, monkey bars, woodchips, you name it) would be.

I used what felt like all of my tools, you guys. I breathed deeply, I set timers, I explained expectations and what’s to come; I used calm voices, I got on his level, I entered his world and played awhile. It didn’t matter how I approached the situation- he was not going to willingly get into the car. After a couple of minutes of bargaining, I told him I was going to pick him up and carry him to the car. He allowed me to do this, but once we got to the car and he realized he had to get into his carseat, he was livid. I tried more tricks- singing songs, telling him his doggy can’t wait to see him, offering toys and snacks- to no avail.

The parking lot at school is not huge, but it’s also not small. It is never full, and there is always space for cars to not have to park right next to each other. I’m always courteous of the parents around me- I know it can be challenging getting your little one into the carseat, and most of the time you need some space to do so. Because of this, I always avoid parking directly next to another vehicle. When I got to school to pick him up, I had a curb on one side of me, and an empty space on the other. When I went to get him in the car though, someone had parked right next to the side I needed cleared to put him in the car. This mom came out with her daughter and needed to get her in the car (of course, on the same side I was on), so I quickly shut our door and joined my son in the van on the opposite side, in hopes I could strap him in as I was sitting next to him.

Big surprise- this was not successful either. He was kicking, screaming, crying, sweating, really working himself up. I took a deep breath, reminded myself we had nowhere we needed to be, and let him out of the carseat. He was instantly happier and started exploring. He found a pair of sunglasses and started playing with them, needing help getting them over his eyes. I grabbed a snack from the very back, and he sat on the floorboard eating his mini muffins. I watched as the tears left his eyes, his hair continued to stick to his sweaty forehead, and the smile returned to his face. Maybe he was hungry, I thought. Or maybe he just really wasn’t ready to be strapped to a seat for 15 minutes. His gaze caught mine and we shared a little smirk.

Right before this moment of calm, I was feeling overwhelmed, embarrassed, out of control, and incredibly heated (both physically and emotionally). In this moment of calm, I reminded myself that the only thing that matters right now is my son. It didn’t matter that everyone in the parking lot likely heard and saw him throwing a fit; it didn’t matter if they judged me for not forcing my child to comply; it didn’t matter that he didn’t get in his carseat when I wanted him to. What mattered is that he was safe, he was respected, and we were connected.

After a few minutes of snacks and playing on the floorboard, he was ready to get into his carseat. He climbed up by himself, and allowed me to buckle him in. He did request that I stay in the back seat with him, to which I replied “mommy has to drive the car so we can get home safe”. He said “okay”, I kissed him on the forehead, and assumed my spot in the driver’s seat. The tools we have in our parenting toolkit won’t work 100% of the time, unfortunately. Our patience will run out. The heat won’t subside because we are wearing black scrubs and parenting a strong-willed two year old. Even then, we can do it. We can provide for and connect with our children. We can keep them safe while compromising on the task at hand.

My name is Brianna. I am a parent coach who doesn’t always get it right in my own house. I am a mom who still gets frustrated, irritable, and impatient. I am an imperfect parent who is perfect for my son. If any of this is relatable or if you find yourself struggling to still connect with your child in these difficult situations, please reach out to me. I want to help you make the most of the time you get to spend with your little ones.

Wishing you a week full of connection, patience, and cool weather.



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