Tuesday, June 2, 2015

In full disclosure, sometimes I get it wrong.

I had a #pinterestfail last week (sort of). The reason that it is a "sort of" is that I didn't actually get the idea from Pinterest, and it was actually pretty cute (though not my best work) when the balloons were inflated in the sun. No, it was not a #pinterestfail in the way that one would laugh about in a funny meme. It was actually sort of a #momfail, which is not funny at all. Follow along if you have time for a long story about a #pinterstmomfail. Please be kind as you read; I am already contrite.

On her last day of preschool, I presented my oldest daughter (and some friends headed to the same school) with handmade t-shirts that said "Future XXX Kindergartner." It was a sweet little surprise, and my girl loved it. This started a tradition. Each year on the last day I would greet my girls at pick-up with something to denote that they had moved up a grade (a poster or balloon denoting the new grade).

I also put "countdown candies" in their lunches the last week of school--m&m's or skittles to count how many days of school were left. It was great for kindergarten counting and culminated in a surprise last lunchbox filled with confetti or small balloons. It was all innocent enough.

This year my youngest daughter started to become demanding about the treats (could she pack them and could it be PBcups?). She was also making plans for what the last day "surprise" would be. We discussed that these were meant to be fun extras, but are certainly not necessities, and that it ruins the surprise if she is dictating the terms. My instincts told me to stop everything altogether right then.

On the other hand, I wanted to persist. I love that our family has a ritual that the girls look forward to. The time for all this is fleeting; what is cool today will be embarrassing soon enough. If I am being completely honest I also like to do it because it is "my thing." Mostly, though, I wanted to end the year in a good note because the same demanding daughter was having a hard time. She is a sensitive kid and major over-reactor. It is sometimes hard to tell her reality from, well, everyone else's reality. This month, however, there were legitimate concerns with some mean boys in the hall after dismissal. She had come out of school distraught for about a week, which is probably why she wanted to be in control of something in the first place. I desperately wanted her last day to be good one--to set the summer off on the right note.

I brought a little rolling cart to school with some balloons and a handwritten sign for my kids. Please note that I didn't use my cutting machine to personalize my big shabby chic merchant's cart with my silhouette, which crossed my mind. I felt this little stand was commensurate with the parents who bring a portable cooler of treats for walking home (which I have seen many, many times). I purposefully tucked the cart into a discrete area, where it was only seen by the people who congregate in the same spot each day. I had enough to give each of the "regulars" a Popsicle. The cart was repeatedly almost knocked over by a preschool-aged sibling, who could not resist touching it. I moved the operation a wee bit out of his grasp and towards the exit to the school. In doing so, I unleashed a HUGE problem.

When the bell rang, I was immediately surrounded by kids who nicely asked for a popsicle. No problem; these were all kids that I knew and I planned to share with them! Things were going great and it was the beginning of summer fun. Yea! My Big Girl walked out and the treat was to her delight. She was happily sharing with friends, all of whose parents were nearby and gave permission and all of whom asked politely. A few people I didn't know as well came by ... I think it was clear that it was personal property and everyone was asking me politely.

At this point my little daughter appeared in hysterics. She threw her massive pile of things down (her backpack, all of her leftover supplies, and even some leftover classroom displays we were "gifted"). She was nearly hyperventilating--something about getting hit hard. As I turned to address her needs, trouble started brewing at the cart. Without me standing there, kids swarmed the cart, grabbing handfuls of treats, and big girl started tugging on my shirt to let me know. I diverted my eyes for a split second from baby girl, so I could pick up all of "stuff." While I turned, she began running home (we live way too close for me to have driven, but you know the cart....).

I ran after her shouting not to leave, because the car was at school, but I didn't catch her in time. The crossing let her go without a parent. I would think common sense would dictate that you should not dismiss a hyperventilating seven year old to go home alone. But it was the last day of school and a lot was going on, including some idiot with a popsicle stand.

I was in a cold sweat at this point from fear (we live directly across the street and less than ten houses down), but still I was left in a horrible spot. I needed to get the girls' massive pile of stuff and the cart quickly in the car and drive those ten house fast to catch the crying seven year old, who was now out of my sight. By the time I turned my attention back to the cart, there was a full-out line of people I have never seen (they must have ridden the bus every other day of school). A line like I am the real. Popsicle. man.

Parents I don't know were waiting with their kids. I realized that it looks like some sort of full-blown PTO sponsored "event," and that I created this confusion with my overblown display. I realized that I should have anticipated this, and I can see now it was rude of me, plain and simple, if I didn't have 400 pops..... My only option at this point was to give the few remaining pops and get the heck out of dodge. It all happened in seconds but felt like an eternity.

The remaining "customers" were not polite--they did't ask please or saying thank you. Only one mom asked me if I provided the treats. I replied that I was simply bringing my kids a treat, but that I was happy to share (which was true). She understood and was thankful. The other parents who clearly heard this exchange, but just stood there looking at me like I wasn't serving them fast enough. Within seconds we (thankfully) ran out. I threw the "stuff" on the cart and started to pick it up and walk away. The crowd didn't disperse. Moms I have never seen looked at me like I need to go get more or something. They weren't using words, but just standing there unmovable, which was more upsetting than if they shouted. As I quickly worked, choking back tears of fear for my little one whose school year just ended on a sour note, I apologetically told them that these were my kids' after school snacks and now they are gone. Then some lady scolded, not me, but my 9 year old that if we didn't have enough for everyone that we shouldn't have brought at all. Her point is true and well-taken, but it was way out of line to say that to a child she did not know. It was also out of line to take a treat like this without even questioning the source or thanking the person giving them out. I was boiling mad at stranger-mom, but I had more important matters to attend to.

We threw the cart in the car and got home as quickly as possible, where we found little sister safely at home. While I think no more than seven or so minutes had lapsed since she stormed off, I was simultaneously thrilled she was safe and furious at her for leaving without permission. I would love to say that I had a calm conversation about choices and consequences at this point, but that is not what went down. There was a lot of yelling and crying on both of our parts. Nothing was what I imagined. This was a horrible way to start the summer.

Composure was regained by all in time to get dressed and travel to dance (less than an hour after the dismissal bell), I was disturbed for a few days. My plan had backfired so badly that it had the exact opposite effect of what I wanted. It was around this time that a certain article was circulating on Facebook about "that moms" over-doing it and the need to stop. I admit--several people tagged me as they shared the article. I read it, and I could agree with much of it having just had such a #pinterestmomfail. I was nodding my head in agreement that it was all so unnecessary--the treats, the parties,the perfectly decorated rooms.

True, but then a few days passed and we are settling into our summer routine, which includes crafts and birthday parties. I realized something. Yes, I made a bunch of mistakes that day in how I went about things. I should have been more considerate of other people in terms of sharing and in terms of other kids' feelings. I realize that other people's parenting style may not include treats and balloons, and it was wrong to make such a public display. I get it, I do. But at the same time, I am not always wrong. I I have a kid who needs a little extra love from me when others were not being so loving to her. I am tired on the shaming and hating on social media of "that moms" who are simply trying to make their kids life memorable and fun. Making an assumption about them when you don't know their motivation is wrong. No matter how eloquently you state it in an article, bashing others' parenting style just makes you a bully. There was no inherent mistake in having a clever treat for my own kids, even though it didn't work this time. I was just loving them in the crafty way I know how. I am "that mom," and I own it.

While we are at it, the very same people who bash "that moms" rely on the same "that moms" for every class party, holiday, and teacher appreciation. Who do you think does everything at the school while you are on the internet complaining that "that moms" do to much? I think we have a whole group of entitled parents who rely on "that moms" to do it all, and they have gotten to the point that they don't even say thank you anymore. I can rest assured that my kids would know how to say thank you if someone gave them a treat because they know the time and love goes into such a thing. In the future, I would plan the exact same surprise for them to be waiting on our lawn when we get home, where I know I would get two big thank yous.

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