A friend once told me that I sound different on this blog than I do in real life. Not alter-ego different, just a little more chipper. I guess it's better than sounding more crazed or more angry. I like to think that I sound the same, but truth be told, I am sure things come out sounding a little neater, a little more mentally stable after I've had the time to get through the actual situation and be past it far enough to post about it. For me, it's the main luxury of blogging.
Tonight there will be no self-editing because, by some miracle, I find myself here at the keyboard at a very low parenting moment. The past few days have been rough for various reasons, most of them small, but when piled on top of each other, they make a nice mound of crap. Tonight was the cherry on that mound, and it just so happens that it all played out in front of the school principal, the teachers, and most of the parents of Older Girl's classmates.
Rob is still away, so I took all of the kids to Meet the Teacher Night at school. This meeting is supposed to be a chance to have a quick sit-down with your child's teacher; the teacher explains their teaching philosophy, what is expected of the children during the year, what kinds of fun things they will be learning. It's not the time for an in depth parent/teacher conference, and the evening is strictly optional.
I knew the children were tired, I knew I was tired, I knew I wasn't at the top of my parenting game, but I wanted to meet the third grade teacher and get the gouge on the year ahead. You can go ahead and say that the whole evening is my fault, and you would be right, but I'll ask you not to say it just the same. I already know the whole debacle can be laid on my doorstep.
The ride there was full of chatter and promises of good behavior, so I was feeling like maybe I wouldn't end up looking like the crazy hag who has more children than she can handle and OMG is she pregnant again?! What gives?! I should have known better.
Of course we were late, but only by a few minutes, and I wasn't the only one hurrying in. The meeting was in the cafeteria, which is basically the fixed up basement of the school. Older Girl spotted some classmates as soon as we got in the door, and she asked to sit on the steps with them while I went in to listen to the principal. I got The Boy set up with a magnet game, and the baby was in the stroller, looking at me with eyes that were begging for sleep.
While the principal was giving the overview of school procedures, The Boy was getting progressively louder with his toy. I asked him to whisper, but it's really no use - he doesn't know what whispering actually entails. I know his modulation problems are part of his SPD, and in a loud environment his only response is to get louder. I know he is not aware that he is doing anything disruptive, and he is often incapable of changing his response. But all of that knowledge could not stop the fire from creeping into my cheeks when I saw the other parents staring at him.
Instead of being grace-full and patient, I became terse and hard with him. His response was to start wailing, a low mournful wail, punctuated with things like "Mom, why are you mad?" I shushed him relentlessly, mercilessly. I hate myself.
About this time, Older Girl came in from the hallway and, while the principal was still speaking, proceeded to ask me if she could go outside with her classmates. In full voice. With no pretense of whispering. I told her no, for a variety of reasons, all of which relate to safety. She then moved from asking me to begging me. Whining like a baby. In full voice. Did I mention the principal is still speaking? Again the parents were staring. I took her by the arm, in a not so very gentle way, and lead her out to the hallway where I contemplated just shaking the living daylights out of her. In a moment of weakness and desperation, and against my better judgement, I let her go outside with the other kids just to stop the whining.
I listened to the principal finish her remarks, although I doubt that I could tell you one word of what she said, and I stood up to find the table with Older Girl's teacher. Meanwhile, I was still regretting my decision to let her go outside. It was fully dusk by now, and while we were in a "safe" neighborhood, it was still an unfamiliar one. Plus, I was all the way down in the basement cafeteria. I wasn't getting a good feeling, so I left The Boy and Baby Girl with my friend for a minute while I went upstairs and called Older Girl.
I should have just left her outside. She was mad, and when she gets mad, she is like me: pissy. I led her to the table where I was sitting with the other kids, and she turned to me, while her teacher was speaking, and told me how it's not fair! and this is boring! and I never get to do anything! and I! want! to! go! outside! Again I grabbed her arm, not caring that I was in a room full of witnesses, and between clenched teeth I hissed at her to get herself into the bathroom and get her behavior under control. My cheeks were so hot by this time that I was sure they had burned right off my face.
I turned back to see the teacher still speaking, but looking straight at me, and I wanted to die. Right there. Just swallowed up whole by some cataclysmic turn of events. I should have just packed up the old kit bag and left, but I'm stubborn. I had made it this far and I sure wasn't going to leave now, not before hearing every last word this woman had to say. Meanwhile, my eight year old daughter was standing in the door way of the bathroom, audibly crying and bemoaning her fate of getting the meanest mother in the world. I shot her my dagger eyes, but she was too busy being fresh-mouthed to notice.
It turned out that there weren't too many more words to be said. Third grade seems very straight-forward, and although the teacher stayed for questions, I could not get out of there fast enough. I ran up the stairs, carrying the baby inside the stroller, and almost not caring whether the other two were following me. I was seething, and they knew it, because they followed without a word.
I got everyone in the van and blew my top. And as I was screaming at the wide-eyed children in my rear view mirror, I wanted to stop. I did. And yet I kept on going. Everyone was crying, even (and especially me), and I was yelling at them for crying. The irony did not escape me. What also did not escape me was how utterly inane it is to yell at someone for crying. All it does is make them cry more. As the piece de resistance, I yelled at them for crying about missing their dad. Mother of Year right here, my friends.
At home, I pulled the Old Woman in a Shoe act and sent them all to bed, except without the whipped them all soundly part. But don't think I didn't think about that. I could hear them crying in bed as I came down here to the keyboard, and this is where the night has brought me. I feel wretched, ashamed, full of regret, sick to my stomach, and tired, mostly just plain tired. And I'm sure you are all so glad that I didn't give myself any time to let the anger pass, to let the humor come and blur out the embarrassment.
Gah. I am eminently unqualified for this job. And I really do hate myself sometimes. I think I'll send myself to bed.