I love the smell of a meltdown in the morning

October 9, 2005


The Swimmy goes to a gymnastics class on Saturday mornings. It’s less about learning how to land a round-off, double-back flip and more about getting some exercise and challenging herself to take some risks and feel accomplished. I mean, she’s four. Come on.

She’s always enjoyed the class, but has been rather afraid to try new things. For example, the one and only time she kicked over a parallel bar we have caught on video tape. Ever since that one time, she has no interest in doing it again eventhough she did it 486 times in a row that one session.

This has changed in the last several months and she is progressing through some new skills at a nice pace. Last week, though, she was a bit worn out and maybe a little under the weather, so we didn’t go to gymnastics. I made an “adult” decision and kept her home to relax, take a breather and watch some fine Disney movies and color with Mommy.

So, back to gymnastics this week. She popped out of bed and immediately wanted to put on her leotard, which she loves like the air she breathes. I had a pilates class, so Husband was going to take her there and I would meet him at the class.

I pull up and he comes walking out with his arms crossed and brows furrowed. What could possibly have happened in the 2.4 minutes of class I had missed?

Well, it appears The Swimmy is no longer interested in listening. To anyone. And this has become a real problem en mi casa as of late.

I told him he could leave and I would monitor Miss Oh-No-She-Didn’t for the rest of the class and off he went. Any takers on the over-under for how long it took before I had to take her out of her class for the “warning” phase of today’s adventure?

5.8 minutes. I took her out of the class and walked her happy ass outside to explain to her in no uncertain terms that if she cannot listen and behave she will not be staying for class.

“Okay, Mommy. I’ll listen.”

“Thank you, Sweetie. Let’s have fun and behave, okay?”

“Okay. I love you.”

Back into class we go. That lasted, oh, 2 more minutes before she was running around and not listening again. I gave the instructor a chance to discipline, but she didn’t, so, Bad Cop I am!

I walk in, The Swimmy’s face drops, the bottom lip comes out and I take her by the arm out of class and to the changing area where she proceeds to proclaim at the top of her little lungs, “BUT I WANT TO LISTEN NOW, MOMMY!”

Well, so sorry, my dear. Consequences are a bitch, aren’t they? Best to learn that now.

More crying, more wailing, more begging and all I’m trying to do is get her shoes on so we can walk to the car for the love of G-d! Finally, success.

What is really odd to me is that I swear one or two of the other parents thought I might have been overreacting and shouldn’t have taken her out of class. Like enforcing behavioral standards and boundaries is a bad thing. Well, it worked. She has backed off her orneriness (man that’s a weird word to have to spell) and started to behave more.

Being Bad Cop kinda sucks, but having already raised two older stepdaughters, I’ve seen what happens when discipline and boundaries aren’t any where near a kid. You could always tell the kids who parents wanted to be their “friends”, or the ones where “no” really wasn’t a complete sentence in their house. They were the ones that kept us up at night.

And so, I’ll take a meltdown here and there. Hell, I’ll probably even cause a few. But, in 20 or so years, when The Swimmy is a mom (holy shit!), she’ll know the value of “no” for her kids. And she’ll grin through one of my grandchild’s meltdowns. And so will I.

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2 Responses to “I love the smell of a meltdown in the morning”

  1. bill Farrell Says:

    Well, that’s why you’re a bad cop, er, parent. It’s not always a nice job, but it’s a job that has to be done. You can teach your kid about crossing the street safely or you can let them learn by getting hit by a bus.
    We had our share of going home from gymnastics and once or twice being dropped in the driveway and not even going to gymnastics.

  2. Nic Says:

    More power to you honey. I became friends with my parents after I had grown up and moved out. Before that, they were the parents and friends were kids my age. Your daughter is leaning valuable lessons, good for you and her.