Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Waves of lessons.

Goat Island in Hawaii

I learned a lesson yesterday.

It was one of those lessons that you would like to learn from someone else's experience rather than first hand. To begin the story there are a few things that I need to say to set the situation up.

Little Guy is in his second session of swim classes for the summer and has been for about a week. When he started out, he was loving it and completely looking forward to going each day. His class was calm and obedient and he was learning a lot. Three days into it a boy needed to switch classes so that he could be with his sister in the other class. In order to keep the classes even, one person from Little Guy's class had to be moved to the other class.

Needless to say, Little Guy was moved. His new class was anything but calm and obedient and it was pure chaos each time we went. One day the lifeguard came and got mad at his class. He started to sob, thinking he was in trouble and had to get out of the pool to come sit with me. I was able to talk to him and tell him that the lifeguard wasn't mad at him but at some of the other kids in his class that were being disobedient and it persuaded him to get back in the pool. He finished his lesson and we went home. The next day he did not want to go to swim lessons. He was terrified that he would get in trouble with the lifeguard. He had tears in his eyes but toughed it out and went anyway.

So, then came yesterday. Once again, he didn't want to go but I was able to somehow convince him to. During the lesson a rambunctious kid ended up poking Little Guy in the eye. It was an accident, but the kid still shouldn't have been fooling around. Anyway, Little Guy began to sob and say he wanted his mommy. I went over to him and stood by him for a while trying to calm him down but he wouldn't. He was a complete wreck and unconsolable. So, we walked over to where I had been sitting and dried him off.

I made him sit on the ground while I tried convincing him to get back in the pool. All eyes were on us by this time, and I mean all eyes. Some other kid could have drowned and no one would have noticed because all the parents, lifeguards, etc. were watching us. I was completely embarrassed and discouraged that I was not able to calm him down. So, I did what any other awful parent would do in this situation.

I threatened him.

That obviously only made things worse and his sobs grew louder so we decided to flee the area rather than bring even more attention to ourselves. I had completely lost any patience that I had started out with (which was little) and we stormed out of there. We didn't leave without me first having a word with the lifeguard asking if there was any way we could get him back in the "calm and obedient" class. That 16 year old girl just looked at me like I was pathetic (don't you hate it when that happens?) and said there wasn't anything they could do because they were already a week in to the lessons. That is when I did what any non-mature adult would do.

I started to cry.

Then I apologized for the tears and blamed it on allergies. As if anyone was going to buy that. If there was a chance that one pair of eyes hadn't been watching before (which I highly doubt), they were sure watching now. With the two of us both in tears (actually, make that three seeing how Tiny Man was also crying by this time) we got in the car and drove home.

This experience stayed with me all evening and kept me awake for two hours after going to bed. I couldn't help but kick myself. I realized that I was way more embarrassed with the way I handled the situation than I was with the way Little Guy had handled it. He was three and scared. I am twenty something and supposed to be someone he feels like he can come to for comfort. Instead I kept telling him to stop crying and to be brave. I was mad with the situation of him being pulled out of the good class in the first place, causing him to be in an uncomfortable situation, and ended up taking it out on him. In front of everyone. Ugh. Just present me with the worst-mommy-ever award.

Why do I share this story? I have no idea. I'm not proud of it in the least bit. I suppose I just needed to write about it so that I can move forward and hopefully learn my lesson. Yesterday I learned to be patient with a tender-hearted little boy, to be a loving mother, to not let his tears embarrass me in front of others.

I held Little Guy extra tight before he went to bed last night and again when he woke up this morning and apologized for the way I acted. His sweet, completely forgiving self said, "It's okay mommy, I love you."

I think about life and it's lessons that we have to learn and think they are very similar to waves in the ocean. Whether it's patience, love, humility, obedience, etc. they all come and smooth out our rough edges until we are finally a nice sandy beach. Sometimes they come big and roaring and slam up against us without much warning. Other times those lessons more commonly are slow and steady but still always working to form us into something better.


  1. Hil, you are a trooper! I would have made a big deal out of it since the first time they moved him to another class. Is not LG fault the situation with the other kid that had to be moved.Bribing and threatened him might not have been the best idea to handle the situation, but you did your best under the circunstances. It is definitely a good idea to change him to the other class. We, as moms learn something new every day. I have had my days too.

  2. All I can say is: I totally, completely relate.

  3. Oh my goodness - it sounds to me like you did everything right. LG was moved to a new class so you tried to make the best of it. He had a rough time and you were right there on the sidelines for him. You encouraged him to get back in the pool but it was just too hard for him. You approached the lifeguard to get him back in the other class but at this point it wasn't possible so you left. I think you sound like a wonderful mother and I too wouldn't have been able to stop the tears.

  4. I just want to give both of you huge hugs!!! You are an amazing mom and your Little Guy is an amazing little boy. How sad that they had to move him out of such a fun class and good experience. I can definitely relate with your whole situation and reaction - so tough, so normal for all moms. -Katie (My Paisley Apron)

  5. Beautiful post, Hil! I learn those lessons too- and even though sometimes I wish I didn't have to make some "mommy mistakes", I know it's just making me better ultimately

  6. Thank you for posting this -- makes us all stop and realize that there are definitely trials of being a mom, and the TOUGH days are so hard. Im sorry you had the "mommy guilt" -- thats the worst. I know you will use this "wave" to learn from it, and continue being a great mom to your boys!

  7. It seems like those moments with my kids are the ones that teach me the most. I just have to tell you that you are not alone, my friend. Thank goodness for sweet, forgiving children who are able to let it go without thinking twice. See, another lesson I can learn from my children? :)

  8. I have so been there. I am a crier when I get upset too. Then I just get embarrassed and want to high-tail it out of there. I am also working on patience and showing my children my love for them more. Poor Little Guy! What a sad experience!

  9. I rarely post comments on blogs, but this time I feel compelled to do so. You are a GREAT mother. If you need to know why I think that, read back to ANY post you wrote, including this one, where you can plainly see what an amazing mother, wife, role model for your children you are. Really. Those situations happen to the best of us, and while you may not have liked how you reacted then, how you reacted after you had time to think about it. You are an amazing person and we can learn a lot from you. Don't be too hard on yourself.

  10. Just to give you a little consolation from a parent whose children are grown: Some of those moments that I STILL feel guilty about and make me cringe when I think back on, when I've mentioned them to the "kids" they don't even remember them! So, chances are that this affected you much more than it did LG.

    Feeling any better? I hope so!!!


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