What started as a nice, sunny summertime day off from work ended in me leaving our swim club just barely holding myself together. It’s my favorite summer routine, taking Friday off from work and spending the whole day with the kids while they are young enough to still be excited by this. We slathered up in our sunblock, got some dollars for the snack bar and headed over to our swim club. Longing to experience days of joy with just me and the kids since we are usually in the daycare/work routine Monday to Friday and just hoping for a special day.
From the moment we arrived my son took off into the deeper end, that boy could spend hours exploring the depths of our pool. My daughter and I generally hang out in the section where she can stand. She likes me to hold her, spin her around in the pool and catch her over and over and over again as she braves the wall of the pool and jumps into my arms. All was going well till my daughter had a bit of a meltdown. Demanding what I do, shouting at me and more. I decided to get out of the pool to give her some time to relax. Well, that turned into a fit beyond anything I had ever seen. When I realized there was no coming back from it I decided it was time to leave. I tried to avoid the stares from other moms, pack up and get home where a change of scenery and maybe a nap, would help salvage the rest of our afternoon.
Maybe she was hungry or tired or maybe I exhausted, hot or hungry, who knows, but what I do know is that it was tantrum of epic proportions that turned into a lesson in coping that I think will follow my daughter for years to come. When we got home from the pool my daughter was still melting down and there were no signs of her slowing down. I left her in her room for a while alone and hoped that would calm her down, NOPE. I sat in her room telling her to calm down and relax but that didn’t help either.
Finally I remembered an article I once read about hugging your children and not talking. Comforting them while letting them work it out themselves. It usually works well with my kids but I wasn’t sure how it would go in this situation since she was so far gone into her fit. I picked Hayley up, sat on the floor, put her on my lap and hugged her. Slowly, very slowly, she started calming down. She started talking and eventually she was calm enough that I felt we could have a discussion about her behavior. This is where it happened. Hayley told me once she got “in trouble” she was afraid I would make her leave the pool so she started crying and then when we left the pool she thought she would be “in trouble” all day. I found it interesting because of both my kids my daughter rarely gets “in trouble” and my husband and I never hold out any punishments for extended amounts of time. We might send someone to their room till they can reset but never for more than 5 minutes (if that long)
Anyway, I explained to my daughter that because she had one moment where she was misbehaving didn’t have to mean that she would have a whole day of it. I told her that we all have moments and it’s how we change after those moments that make our day better. I explained that some days I wake up cranky and unless I remember to change my moment then I would be cranky all day and that would be a waste of day. It clicked with her more than I ever thought it would. Later on, when my husband got home she told him she had a moment at the pool this morning but now it’s a new moment so everything is ok.
The next day we went to the pool. Before we left I asked my daughter to please not yell at me in the pool and let her know that I wasn’t going to hold yesterday against her. I told her today was a new day and our family always gives each other more chances. When we got to the pool we were having fun and then my daughter got a little caught up with herself and was being fresh. I told her she was being fresh to me and her response, “I’m sorry Mommy, let’s start a new moment” and she kissed me!!
Since that day we have had many time where my daughter will say, “It’s a new moment” or I will say, “OK how about we start a new moment” something about the word moment seems to free her from the past moment and move her forward to a new, special, happy and fresh moment. It’s been the biggest parenting win I have experienced in a while!!