Friday, April 16, 2010

Speed and Velocity

As I'm watching Oscar tear around the house or our yard or Target or anywhere, I often think of this song, Speed and Velocity, by They Might Be Giants.  It's from their newest kids album, Here Comes Science.  (Full Disclosure: I loved TMBG long before I had kids and I'm so, so happy they make children's music now.  We have all four of their kids CDs and I love them. I listen to them when my kids aren't even in the car.  Okay, that's a little embarrassing, but still.  It's good stuff.  The Wiggles it ain't.)

There's a part of the song that goes like this: 

Motion (keep movin', keep movin', keep movin') 

Direction (which way, anyway, uptown, all around) 

Acceleration (let's go faster) 
Acceleration (let's go faster) 

This is Oscar, pure Oscar.  Pure toddler, I think.  He's high energy.  Even off the food dyes and on very little sugar, he's a body in constant motion.  And when he's not moving, he thinking about moving.  

And I love it.  I do.  Most days.  On the days where I can keep him safe and help him properly direct his energy and respond appropriately to his zest for life.  On the days I can't do these things?  I just feel like a useless failure of a parent.

Case in point: 

Last week, I took the boys to the local farmer's market. Oscar had been complaining that his hair was "too curly" and that he needed to "go to the hair cut store" and there's a little salon at the market that does kids hair cuts for $9.  That's way cheaper than the $25 I'd been giving my stylist to shore his lovely locks, so I decided we'd go for it.

Anyways, the market is within walking distance, but it was raining a little so I decided to put them in the car and drive over.  When we got there, I opened the truck to get out our stroller to find it wasn't there.  Huh.  Not a big deal, but that meant I'd have to carry MW and hold Oscar's hand which is not ideal.

It started out so well.  I was slightly concerned because the stylists spoke very little English and asked me to choose a numbered picture to indicate how I wanted his hair cut.  All the cuts were wicked short, and that's not how Oscar wears his hair.  So I explained how I liked it and they seemed to get it and they cut his hair.  It looked great, but it took her a half an hour.  That's a super long time for a preschooler to have to sit in a chair "not moving." He was quite the ball of energy when they were done.

I then made the mistake of letting him have the rainbow colored Twizzler they offered him as a treat.  This is my fault because I did not tell them in advance that Oscar was not allowed to have sweets, particularly brightly colored sweets made of high fructose corn syrup and FD&C food dyes.

My next mistake was deciding that we would wait in line for Korean food.  There were two people in front of me, so I thought it would be five minutes.  I mean, the food is cooked, they just have to put it into containers.  Really.

Well, forever reason it was not that simple. They ran out of rice, and even though this is one less step, it made things take even longer.  Oscar was holding my hand but he wrestled out of my grasp.  He started darting around, and that was fine as long as I could see him. I understand he needs to test boundaries and I let him do that, as long as he's safe.

Then, he ran around behind the cart where I could not see him.  I went and fetched him and told him, "No, you cannot go behind the cart.  Mommy needs to see you." And then he went behind the cart five more times.

And then, he started fiddling with the propane tanks attached to the cart.

And then he started trying to open the car doors of the market's vendors.

And then he tried to run out into the parking lot (!!).

Repeat x100.

Oh, AND, I was holding Miles this whole time, because it I was not, he was running in the opposite direction of Oscar making and equal amount of mischief. 

Now, none of this would be cause for concern or even major annoyance if it weren't for the fact that I was holding Miles.  This is really just normal toddler behavior.  Holding Miles seriously hindered my ability to:

a) Keep up with Oscar;
b) Effectively manage Oscar's behavior;
c) Make good, rational parenting decisions (yeah, I know this does not really make sense.)

So, instead of playing peek-a-boo, or I Spy, or Simon Says, or practicing roars, or naming dinosaurs (all things that would have channeled his energy and distracted him from his misbehavior); or just LEAVING; I got frustrated and became this mom:

"Oscar!  Get over here!"

"What are you doing? Come here.  NOW."

"Stop that! Stop it now!"

"Oscar.  Listen to me.  Listen!"

"That's it!  You are not getting a treat.  Miles gets a cookie and you do not."

"Come on, we're leaving.  No? Bye then!"

Oscar was laughing hysterically the whole time and the more frustrated I go, the more he laughed.  All of this ended in Oscar having a meltdown at the market and me basically dragging him, kicking and screaming, back to the car.

Can I also tell you that there was a mom there with two children that were similar in age to my own and they were behaving like absolute angels? Me?  I was the mean mom with poorly behaved children who had no idea how to parent.

I ended up being the mom I never wanted to be.  And, I blamed the missing stroller, and terrible candy, and the ridiculous amount of time the food was taking, but lets be honest here.  This was no ones fault but my own, and that is the worst part.

It's time for me to adjust my parenting velocity so that Oscar and I are going the same speed and direction, because I can do better than this.

(Oh, that TMBG CD is an Amazon Affiliate link.  Consider it disclosed.)


Aliceson said...

Days like that are hard but at least you worked through it in your head and on your blog (aren't these things great?) and now can develop a new plan for next time. And we all know whether we like it or not, there will be a next time.

Keely said...

I think you need to cut yourself a little slack, you can't be "on" all the time. We all have not-so-great days at work, and you're no different. Yeah, you could have made different choices and had different reactions, but that you RECOGNIZE that is what makes you a great Mom. And next time, you'll be the one with the 'angel' children.

blissfully caffeinated said...

Agree with Keely. You are teh awesomes. Cut yourself some slack. Also? I am THAT mother. If you heard me in the grocery store with the kids you'd be all, "Dang, bitch. Stop your yelling."

And quit dissin' The Wiggles, yo. Toot toot.


blissfully caffeinated said...

lol, the word verification was "hickb". how did they know it was me?

Mrsbear said...

We all have those off days, when the planets are misaligned and the universe throws a big fist full of poop in our direction. You made it out alive. It counts. High five. :)

Anonymous said...

Trust me when I say you are going to have plenty more days ahead during which you totally lose it :) You are in good company. One bad day does not mean you are a bad mom. You are an awesome mom and having two so close in age is rough, I know, lol. At least once a month I have a melt down, in public, wearing my ugly clothes and no make-up... In Wal-Mart!

Sprite's Keeper said...

Ah geez, I am right there with you. Almost every day. BTW, I about had a conniption when I saw that TMBG was behind the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse music. Woohoo!

Jan said...

I adore TMBG - I have since the 80s.

You have my utmost sympathy AND empathy, since I was the pet owner strangling my vicious, badly behaved dog while yelling obscenities in the vet's office recently.

I knew all that parenting practice would pay off in my old age...

Cara said...

Oh gosh, Jenni. This one & your TJ post have been my life lately. I told the husband the other day that sometimes? Having an almost 3yo & a 19mo just sucks big fat balls. I like your "adjust my velocity" way of putting this...I might just zoink that.