As summer unfolds I am trying to identify what motivates a tweaked parent response. In other words – What are my triggers? And, more specifically, what triggers a less-than-awesome-response to my kid?
In the spirit of role modeling one of my triggers is when T says, “Poop”, which really means, “I have to poop.”
A brief circle back on the path not expected: I never in all my years on earth talked about bodily functions until I became a parent. I fear I now have scatological writing tendencies. Did I explain that correctly or does it sound like I crap when I write?
For more on my “tendencies” see: Bodily Functions, Sid Vicious (and his little dog, too) and On Being Typical and Not-so-typical (this one has just the briefest mention of farting. If you don’t have time I would skip it.)
So, back to my “trigger”. When I hear “Poop” I lose it. Allow me to expand on my awful parenting. I blame T for how I feel. Victim blaming reasons ‘number one and two’ (pun intended): One, T informs me of this bodily need twenty minutes into bedtime. I am lying quietly next to him waiting for him to drop off so I can go watch something R rated or read the daily download (not a pun) of the New York Times on my Kindle. Two, he interrupts an argument we are having on the front steps about hurrying up so are not late (again) to tell me he has to “Poop”.
I can’t ignore his sh*t in either scenario. Plans change. Life takes unexpected turns and twists. Pooping can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to a half hour. Forty-five minutes is within the realm of possibility.
Ok, good parent modeling: Why does it bother me?
After much soul searching I discover my personal epiphany.
Enter my way back machine: I am sitting in the hall outside the only bathroom in our six member household. I am seriously concerned I am going to wet my pants. I have spent the last twenty minutes or so banging on the door and pleading with my older brother who has commandeered the bathroom for the last almost hour.
Finally my brother strolls out with a cigarette in his mouth, a cup of coffee in his hand and the Minneapolis Star Tribune sports section folded under his arm. He’s nine. Not to worry. It’s the 1970’s and we live in Wisconsin.
The next challenge is going to the bathroom while holding my breath.
My dad had been delegated to “talk to him” months before.
“Listen, kid, you gotta tell us before you go in. With six of us someone is going to have to go. Just a heads ups. OK?”
“Sure thing, Dad. You got a light?”
That was the whole “talk”. This conversation is representative of 99% of my dad’s talks with my brother. These talks were about 1% effective.
I think it is fair to say I have been re-stimulated by this previous life experience. Pooping means something to me and if I keep this up T will have issues about Number Two, too.
The parenting tip you didn’t ask for – it’s not necessarily your kid who is the problem. Think instead – Why does that bother me?
This is actually a good all around human interaction tip. Self-reflection illuminates. It also scares the crap out of most of us (obviously, pun intended).
It is much easier to blame the other person.
As for me? Seriously, I need to get over this sh*t already.