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    Don’t Throw Me a Parenting Parade

    When you hold your beautiful newborn in your arms, you revel in the love that rushes through your veins. You promise to do your very best for your baby. Fast-forward 5 years. Your child is streaking through your house like a maniac, screaming at the top of his lungs while deftly tossing Legos at the dog. You have just worked an 8 hour day, stopped at the dry cleaners, went to get your child from childcare, managed to put something on the table somewhat resembling a meal and now you are dealing with an irate and irrational 5 year old. Your first thought is to hand your child the iPad, grab yourself a bottle of Pinot Grigio (without a glass), flop on the couch and try not to cry. Your second thought is to yell, “I am counting to 5 and you better be in your room or no electronics for the rest of your life”.

    Instead of doing either of these, you take a deep breath and acknowledge your child’s emotional state. Look at your child and try to see what his or her behavior is telling you. Perhaps they are overstimulated by something that happened during the day or that they have a stomachache. Or maybe they are drained simply because it’s hard being so new to the world.

    I vividly recall an incident that I thought warranted a “parenting parade.” Or a trophy of some type, at least. I was at a supermarket with my then 3 ½ year old daughter. We were having friends over for dinner and I had to grab a few last items. At the end of the cookie isle was a colorful display reading “Halloween Oreos.” My super observant daughter whined that she wanted them. I told her “maybe another time”. She whined for them again. I again said “no” and power walked to the dairy section. My insistent daughter would not let it go. I said “no” emphatically again and this seemed to egg her on. That was all it took. Game on. She started crying and whining simultaneously. I was not going to give in. With a shopping cart of groceries, I told her that we were going to leave if she did not stop. She didn’t stop. Leaving my semi-full cart, I picked her out of the front of the cart seat. Her face was as red as her hair and I carried her out of the store, kicking and screaming. I managed to get to my SUV without dropping her, unlocked the car and put her in her car seat (This was no small feat because she assumed that straight-line back position that only a young toddler can achieve when they don’t want to get into their car seat). I leaned against the car, proud that I did not give in and made good on the consequences of her actions.

    Knowing what I know now, I realize that this was not A+ parenting. It was a B-, at best. Yes, I did not give in but I did not think about the underlying cause of her tantrum (other than a possible burgeoning addiction to orange food dye.) She was tired and she missed me. She didn’t want to be tethered to a shopping cart, she wanted to be home. With me. In an environment where she is loved fiercely. What should I have done? When we got to the cookie display and she asked for a package, I should have said, “No. But we can make cookies together tomorrow”. I should have left the store and just ordered pizza for my friends. I should have taken her point of view. To this day, making cookies with my daughter is one of the greatest blessings of my life.

    As most adults understand, parenting is difficult. It is beautiful. It is life sustaining and exhausting at the same time. There are no words to describe the love we have for our children. It’s a love that is too big for words. Remember that your child does not have a lot of experience being on this earth, and it’s your job to make sure that they are guided with love and understanding. So after you reunite with your child after several hours apart, read a book together, make a mess in the kitchen, ask Alexa to put on some music and dance like a crazy person with the love of your life.