Two weekends ago, I had a bad mom moment.
We were at a friends house for a braai. There was a new family that we didn’t know. The boys once went Mountain Bike riding together, but that was it. The 3 men were outside and the 3 women inside chatting. The 4 boys were all over the place playing.
We had dinner and then started playing 30 Seconds. The kids were playing all sorts of games and having a jol. All was well with the world. Then suddenly the power goes out. So the dad whose house it is gets 2 camping lights and puts them up. One in the playroom and one one the table where we were sitting. Candles were lit and we continued playing.
Suddenly the one boy kept running towards the table where the adults were sitting and he was shining the light in our eyes. This also meant that the playroom was dark. The parents ask him to stop but he kept doing it. Next, all 4 boys start running around the house and around the table where we were sitting. The one boy is now screaming/screeching really loud. My husband raises his voice and asks all 4 boys to calm down a bit and to please stop screaming.
Now before I continue, let me just give you some more context to how that week had been for me.
- Three days during that week I had such a hard time with Henri, talking back, being very cheeky in the way he spoke to me and just generally not listening. I had spoken to him and also taken privileges away as punishment.
- The Thursday night, my husband was out. The boys and I were watching an episode of Big Bang theory like we have done many evenings before. This episode started with Sheldon hearing creepy noises outside his office. I look at Liam (5), the reason for this is, Henri keeps scaring his brother at night. He hides and literally scares the living daylights out of him. To the point where Liam now does not want to go upstairs at night on his own. I have had many chats with Henri about not scaring his brother.
So back to that Thursday night. The episode continues, I tell Liam that BBT is not a scary show and Sheldon is probably just dreaming, suddenly something scary happens, Henri screams at the top of his lungs and with a very theatrical movement jumps of his chair and falls backwards (imagine hand on the forehead, fainting) Now his little brother is looking at me with giant eyes. I told Henri that he must please not do that because he is scaring his brother. Liam got such a fright because Henri was sitting behind him and he was obviously not expecting that.
The next min a glow in the dark skeleton falls from the roof. Henri again jumps up and screams in the exact same way he did before. Which now lead to Liam getting the fright of his life and came to me crying. I held him, calmed him and then showed him that it was Raj and Howard who were trying to scare Sheldon, as it was Halloween. He said, “the Skeleton didn’t scare him, but his heart hurt when Henri screamed”
So I again had a chat with Henri and explain to him why I don’t want him doing this.
Needless to say, Liam couldn’t sleep that night and now doesn’t want to go upstairs at all on his own, day or night.
- Friday morning, Henri hides behind the classroom door and give his brother a fright, to which Liam reacted by pushing him. Henri knocked his head on the corner of the table. He had a massive bump on the head. After icing Henri’s head I kakked him out and took more privileges away. I mean, didn’t we just have this conversation the night before? “No more scaring your brother”
So now that you have an idea of what my week was like and where my frustration levels were at with Henri, we can continue the story of what happened at the braai.
The parents of the “new” boy asked him to stop with the flashlight, my husband asked the kids to stop screaming and running around the table where we were sitting. Then the dad, who’s house it was asked the boys again to stop running around, stop screaming and stop moving the flashlight.
Next minute they are off again, but now, my kids weren’t the ones screaming, but I notice Henri is chasing them. So I get up, I go to the playroom, I ask all of them collectively to please try and stay in the playroom as we can’t hear each other talking that is how loud they are. I then ask Henri to not chase the boys.
I went to sit down, not 10min later, running again and then a loud crash and crying. Henri had slipped and ran into the wall. Now I am getting angry, long past the point of being irritated or annoyed. I tell my husband that after his drink we are leaving. I go to check that Henri is ok and tell him “Henri, please do not scare anyone, and do not chase them either, it is too dark, and you just got hurt because you can’t see where you are running. This is your last warning” Ok he said.
I had literally just sat down and the one boy came out with the flashlight and there was screaming again. I walk to the playroom and I tell Henri that we are going to go home, they need to start tidying up all the toys. He looked at me with this blank expression and then laughed and said “sure mom” but with so much sass I felt like slapping him, I didn’t of course, I did, however, give him the look, you all know what look I am talking about.
Literally 5 min later all 4 boys come screeching out of the room, down the hallway and around the table, Henri at the end chasing them. As he gets to the end of the table where I am (he was opposite me, right behind his dad) I went nuclear, I was shouting like a demon. “HENRI, STOP!!!! TURN AROUND, FACE THE WALL AND SIT DOWN, TIME OUT!!! AND THAT IS WHERE YOU WILL STAY UNTIL WE LEAVE”
The whole house fell quiet. The other 3 kids quietly went off playing. My husband said “I think you overreacted” Now, sure to someone, like the other couple probably, it might have looked like I overreacted. But did I?
How many times must 6 adults ask 4 kids to STOP and LISTEN?. FFS man. And besides that, a lot had lead up to this point between me and Henri and this was just the last straw. I took 5 min to just breathe and calm myself, then I asked Henri to come with me because I would like to talk to him. This is just how I do things. When I lose my shit, and I do quite often, not to this extreme, but it happens. I always take that 5min for both me and him to just calm ourselves and then we talk it out.
The first thing he said was, “I was not screaming” So I said, “I know, but why do you think I only shouted at you?” “Because I was chasing them?” So he knew why he also immediately apologised.
I explained to him that all 6 adults at some point had asked them to calm down, and the fact that I specifically spoke to him twice about chasing and scaring the other boys and that is why he was in trouble. I also explained to him that the whole week he had been rude to me and wasn’t listening and I can’t just let things like that slide. There have to be consequences. He said “I know mommy, I am sorry”
I talk to my boys about everything. 3 years ago a bought a lovely book series that explains all kinds of emotions to the kids. “When I am feeling lonely, scared, nervous”. They are amazing, they help the kids understand their emotions. Now I am all for the gentler approach and I don’t believe in the “kids should be seen not heard” BUT I am also very old school, and if I have spoken 2 or 3 times, and I have warned you that the next time you do it there will be trouble, then you better know there will be trouble.
I honestly didn’t care what the new couple thought about me, I didn’t care if they thought I was a horrible mother. The friends, whose house it was, knows me, they know the type of mom I am, they know this is not the norm. All though I felt some guilt towards Henri for scolding him in front of his friends, I just feel that having friends around doesn’t make all the rules change.
Motherhood is one hell of a ride. I both back myself for what I did and know that it was right, but at the same time, I feel annoyed with myself for not dealing with it in a calmer manner. I could have pulled him aside and scolded him. Would that have had the same effect though? I had scolded him that same evening and it didn’t do anything.
I think because there is so much information out there on how we should be raising our kids we can all be hard on ourselves, second guessing what we did, and was it the right thing to do? Could I have done it better? But there is no rulebook, right? They didn’t come with instructions and we are all just trying to find what works for us. But wow man, some days are just harder than others and I think what I need to take from this is to not be so hard on myself and to just keep talking to my boys. Talking about how certain emotions make you feel and react.