Monday, January 10, 2011

You Lost Your What?

As parents, we've all been there.

A long work day leaves us short on patience by the time we get to pick up the kids at the end of the day. Add to that the complexity of having to gather up snow pants, coats, hats and mittens to make what should be the most enjoyable part of our day, reuniting with our kids, the most stressful part.

Tonight I watched a parent berate their kindergartner about losing her coat. She truly had no idea where it was. You could see the bewilderment in her eyes, and soon you could see the tears as her dad went on and on about how she could possibly lose her coat, of all things. He didn't raise his voice any louder than I would have -- as a matter of fact if it had been me, I probably would've gotten louder. I would've gone on longer than he did. But he went on long enough to bring his daughter to tears.

I sympathized with both of them. I could sympathize with the kindergartner, being berated loudly and publicly by her dad, for something she didn't remember doing. And I could sympathize with him picking up the kids after a long, perhaps stressful work day, with this becoming one more issue to add to his pile of stress. I wanted to reach over and give them both a hug, to tell them that it wasn't the end of the world.

We've all been there. And, about an hour after witnessing that event, I was there myself.

We were in the next stage of evening stress: the making of dinner, which somehow happens between requests for snacks, for something to drink, between show-and-tell of projects and homework and stories. Lindsey had been finishing a project when I picked her up so she continued it at home, pulling out the paints and painting an additional "room" to her puppy home.

Marissa decided she wanted to paint too, at which point she promptly spilled the entire cup of now black water used for rinsing Lindsey's brushes, splattering water all over the floor and the chair and table legs.

A little history lesson here: Marissa spills. A lot. If a cup of water sees Marissa coming the water leaps out of the cup of its own accord to save her the trouble.

I took a deep breath and heard "Don't yell, Mommy! I'll clean it up! I'll clean it up!"


I hand over paper towels.

Cleaning commenced, and I was able to calm down while Marissa cleaned up the mess. But clearly her expectation was that yelling would ensue. I pictured that harried dad in my mind and could see myself in his place, over and over again.

We all lose things -- coats, mittens, and occasionally our cool. I am working towards keeping my cool as often as possible.


  1. Oh man, my son "loses" stuff all the time! I put the word in quotes because what he thinks is lost is actually sitting in plain site if he would just look for it.

  2. Grandma Bonnie3:32 PM

    I can just hear her saying "Don't yell, Mommy." I have a feeling that will stick in your head awhile and may help with the patience level. This whole blog brought tears to my eyes. And we think kids don't have stress!!

  3. Thankfully kids are more resilient than adults (as you can tell by the smile on Marissa's face as she cleaned). But they learn by example, so I am trying to set a good one.

    Curt, my kids lose things they are looking directly at all the time! Lindsey will look at her mittens on the countertop and say "Where are my mittens?" Uh...right in front of you?