Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Major parenting fail and light bulb moment...

I screwed up big time this morning with the athlete.

Screwing up is nothing new.  I'm a parent after all, not super woman.  I've never raised a twelve year old boy before.  I learn as I go and try my best to learn from the mistakes I make along the way.

Today will go down in the record books for me.

I had an epiphany today.  (Granted it wasn't until I got home and explained the entire ordeal to the coach and he offered up some words of wisdom to me.)  But none the less, I had a light bulb moment and I am so excited to start using what I learned today in future disagreements with the athlete.

As I mentioned in this post here, the athlete and I are one in the same.  We are stubborn to the core, we butt heads daily, and arguments are part of our relationship.

Today was nothing new.

It was the athlete's second day of baseball camp.  Yesterday went off without a hitch aside from some eye rolling and "jeez mom" a few times over the fact that I put sunblock on him and made him bring a small cooler with ice to keep his drinks cold for the entire day.  (Terrible of me, I know!  What kind of mom tortures there pre-teen like that!) 

 He tolerated my behavior because I didn't make him eat a bag lunch yesterday.  (A little side note:  the athlete hates sandwiches.  He gets hot lunch everyday during the school year and during the summer he cooks for himself.)

 I hadn't gone shopping yet this week so I explained to him that yesterday only, I would pick him up a pizza and bring it down to him at the field.  ONLY YESTERDAY.  He was made well aware that the rest of the week he would be bringing a sandwich lunch.  At the time, he was ok with that.  I should have known better than to think this would have been the end of this subject.  

Back to this morning:  I woke the athlete up and tried to put him in a good mood by telling him I picked up his favorite cereal at the store last night.  For a short time this worked.

Until... he asked me what's for his lunch.  I took a deep breath knowing the shit was about to hit the fan. Calmly, I reminded him he was having a sandwich today and gave him his choices.



Suddenly I am sucky mom who can't do anything right.    His good mood is gone and replaced by sulky, rude, sarcastic, eye rolling, sighing, and unappreciative pre-teen self.  (I think that pretty much sums him all up at that point in time!)

Begrudgingly he barks out at me that he will have a tuna sandwich and storms out of the room.

The rest of the morning was more of the same.  He pissed and moaned about brushing his teeth, packing his bag, putting on sunblock, and of course taking the dreaded cooler along.

When we got in the car he sat hunched over staring at the floor.  I had just about had it at that point but tried to explain to him how his behavior was showing me how unappreciative he was being.  That camp is a luxury not a necessity.

More eye rolling and more silence.

I tried a different tactic and explained that there are better things I could be doing with my time, like sleeping in an extra hour, sitting my butt on the couch drinking an iced coffee and watching the news, instead of getting up early to get him ready for camp, packing his lunch and cooler, driving him across town and so on.   

More silent gazing out the window with no acknowledgement from him.    Apparently I was having a conversation with just myself.  

Now for the major parenting fail:

Instead of finishing what I had to say calmly whether he chose to participate in the conversation or not, what did I do?

I snapped and started screaming.  I mean SCREAMING, at the top of my lungs about how selfish and spoiled the athlete is.  

This sparked a chain reaction and the athlete broke his silence and started screaming at the top of his lungs, 


My response to his sudden outburst was an empty threat about never letting him go to camp for the rest of his childhood.

Needless to say all that did was add major fuel to the fire.

And there we were, sitting in the parking lot of the ball field screaming at each other, neither of us listening to anything the other was saying, frantically trying to make our own points.

So stupid, but that's the truth.

After taking a few minutes to compose ourselves the athlete finally decided he was ready to exit the car.  Without a word he grabbed his belongings and silently made his way across the parking lot and over to the field never stopping, never looking back.

I sat, watching him walk away, the guilt already washing over me.  I hated leaving things that way.

When he was younger he never would have left that car until we had reconciled.  Now apparently it's not a big deal to walk away from your mother after a huge fight without exchanging "I'm sorry and giving hugs."

Frustrated I returned home and poured my heart out to the coach.  (I still thought I was 100% right about trying to get the athlete to see my point of view and apologize for his completely inappropriate behavior to me.)

And now for the light bulb moment:

The coach calmly and simply put everything into perspective for me in just a  few sentences:

"You were right.  You went wrong by expecting your stubborn 12 year old son to see that you were right in the heat of the moment.  No matter what you said or did, nothing was going to change his mind right then and there.  You should have just said what you needed to say to him while he sat quietly in the car with you and ended it right there.  Who cares if he agrees with you or not?  Your his mother and what you say goes.  He doesn't have to like it but he has to respect it.  When he gets home from camp today you need to explain to him that you will not have another morning like today again.  Tomorrow he will be having another sandwich and if there is any grief about it than he will be staying home.  End.of.story.  There is no need to lose your cool and scream at him.  The choice is his."

Well holy hell, doesn't that make a ton of sense. So simple and yet so true.

The coach is such a wise man and I am one lucky lady to have him by my side helping me to navigate this new territory of teen-hood that we are fast approaching.

Now the hard part:  remembering to keep my cool no matter how frustrating the eye rolls, sighs, and whispers under his breath become and keep in mind that it isn't so much about getting him to see my point of view as it is about him learning to respectfully accept it because I am his mother.

And because I said so!  Ha ha ha!

I'm linking up with Shell's PYHO today



  1. Oh...they joys of parenthood! I've had many a moment like the one you described myself...it's SO hard to be patient with those crappy pre-teen/teenage attitudes!!!

  2. Sadly, I've been there too. Kids really know how to push your buttons and then make you feel awful for your response. I'm not even to the pre-teen/teen stage yet and I'm not really looking forward to it.

  3. Oh, this is so hard! I have certainly lost my cool in a MAJOR way more than once with my daughter. These little people can push your buttons like nobody can.

    I love your husband's advice. Of course, in the moment I can see why you were so impassioned. Sometimes I think it can actually be good for our kids to see how emotional we feel about a situation - that we are not made of stone. However, I totally agree with The Coach on how to handle it going forward!

  4. Wow, the coach is so wise!

    We can't really expect our kids to understand all the logic behind what we do. Explaining it all is sometimes just a waste of breath!


So what did ya' think???