I just wanted to share this quick story with you for no other reason but to keep me honest. I've promised myself that I'd share the good, bad and ugly with you so here you go...my least-proud moment as a parent thus far:
This evening before dinner I was out at the playground with the kids and Zoe was working on mastering the monkey bars. She actually mastered them long ago, but once in a while she hits a bump in the road and convinces herself that she can't do it. Sometimes I'm sympathetic but most of the time it (completely unfairly) annoys the crap out of me. I don't know why it bothers me so much because all she needs from me is to stand next to her and hold onto her coat pocket until she swings her second hand to the second ring but every time she asks me to, I am embarrassingly impatient with her. I know it's because I can't tell if she's playing me or not. I know it's entirely possible that she's nervous but she seems like she's faking it most of the time and I can't help but wonder if she just wants my attention because in the moment I'm watching Owen closely or something. Plus, the drop to the ground is not very far for her anymore and she's dropped and realized it doesn't hurt already, so I always feel like that fear shouldn't be there for her anymore. I use a tone of voice that, even in the moment, I know is way too harsh and I always find myself hoping no one can overhear me because I know I'm being too hard on her. I say things like "Zoe, I'm NOT helping you....You JUST did this all by yourself and the drop is NOT very far.....come on hurry UP, just DO it....I think you're just doing this for attention, so come ON." In my better moments I talk with her about focusing on breathing, telling herself she's brave and strong and can do it...I've told her how she should just not think about it too much and picture her hand grabbing the ring and nothing else...usually, though I bully her into just giving up or I reluctantly hold her damn coat pocket in a really immature sulky kind of way, giving her a really bitchy "Good job but you know you don't need me to help you." I'm not kidding and yes, I'm ashamed of myself.
Never more than tonight though, when the situation escalated so far that at one point she said "Mommy, why are you being so mean?" and I found myself saying, as we headed for home "Zoe, I'm NOT doing those monkey bars anymore. If you can't do it yourself, we're just not doing them anymore.". She broke down into a puddle of honest tears saying "Okay, Mommy I'm sorry!" and I was immediately and completely remorseful. I knelt down and hugged her as hard as I could and apologized over and over as she sobbed and sobbed. When she finally calmed down a bit, she very maturely told me why she is afraid and it totally made sense. I apologized again and asked if she wanted to give it one more try her way...she cheered right up and we bounded over to the monkey bars one last time. After we did it her way, I asked if she wanted to try it one more time without my help and she did just that, no problem. On our walk home, I told her I was sorry I'd made her so sad and she said "It's okay, Mommy"..I told her it wasn't really okay but that I appreciated her saying that. After her recap of the situation, in which she described my reaction to her crying as "when your voice went back to normal" (eek) she said "Mommy, I'm sorry I cried like that." and I just wanted to give her a million hugs right then and there.