As parents, we do what we need to, to simply get through the day. Some drink a much needed glass of wine after a long day of diaper changing and toddler chasing.
Some find solace in a good book once the babes are put to bed. As of late, I have resorted to mental score keeping in my head.
If I gain a victory by making my kids happy or disciplining them in a satisfactory way I visualize ‘1 point for mom’ and in turn if the kids best me in some way or another- ‘kids 1, mom 0’.
Usually by tallying up the totals that are etched into my mind at bedtime, the kids maintain a high score of double digits while I wallow with my pitiful 2’s and 3’s.
On this day however, Lars was at a birthday party and Sophie was being rather well behaved; I began thinking I may just have a shot at tonight’s win after all.
My hopes are high for the evening, as I already have dinner on the table and the house clean by 5:30 p.m., usually a difficult task to obtain.
It isn’t until I hear, “I’m not eating this!” from the boy child that I begin to see my victory slowly slipping away.
I calmly rebut, “Yes you will Lars, and there will be no desert until you eat all of your supper.” The blank look on my sons face would have been enough to make me shriek any other day, but boy did I want the ‘win’ tonight.
“If you do not eat your food Lars I will take down the blanket fort in your room. And it won’t go back up until you eat EVERYTHING on your plate!”
I will admit my tone at this point is getting a little heated, and the threat of losing the beloved fort in his room sends my son over the edge. He crumples dramatically to the floor in a sobbing rueful heap. His volume only increases while an endless stream of tears run down his face.
I watch the spectacle only for a moment before I make my way towards the child to bring him to a much needed time out.
With great effort I drag his floppy five year old body towards the corner and sit him there, all the time his howling never relinquishes. I still feel as though I am doing proficient in the ‘points’ department though, so I give myself another score for good measure.
“Lars you have to eat your dinner, you need to eat if you want to become big and strong.”
“NO, I’m not eating I said!” With each word, I can feel another point getting taken off my end tally.
Maybe some bribery will do the trick.
“Well don’t you want a cinnamon bun, you could have one if you eat your supper.”
“NO NO NO, I’M NOT HUNGARY!” This throws me for a loop, and any bit of composure I had left is lost.
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU’RE NOT HUNGARY? YOU HAVE TO EAT LARS, THIS IS RIDICULOUS!” Goodbye points, hello mental breakdown.
In a gasp, Lars bellows out between snivels, “I just … ate pizza …. a-and … cake at … the b-b-birthday party. …” Leaving behind a trail of sobs and snorts, without a doubt thinking I was going to force feed him despite his jam-packed belly.
In this second I have several things fly through my head- first and foremost, ‘how did you possibly forget he had just ate?’
A stereotypical game show host yelling at me in an unnerving fanatical voice, “AND THE WORST MOTHER IN THE WORLD AWARD GOES TO, MRS. LINDSAY BROWN! COME ON DOWN, YOU MEAN MEAN MOMMY.”
I then think about how I have most definitely lost this round of score keeping, and finally I realize that, while score keeping is captivating, when a fail of such great proportions occurs and ones score plummets to an impalpable depth, it really takes the satisfaction out of it.
I make amends with son, explaining that ‘Mama forgot he had ate with his friends’ and that I was sorry. And I give him the cinnamon bun as a consolation prize.
He seems happy enough with this conclusion. I, although am left with a pit of contrition stewing in my stomach.
I don’t think will carry on ‘Score Keeping’, It is one thing to feel proud of yourself for a job well done; but for that, I can just look towards the children Jamie and I are raising and admire what kind and superb little individuals they are growing into.
And in addition, I think that a good book and a large glass of wine after the kids retire to dreamland will do the trick from now on.
Lindsay Brown is a Sylvan Lake mother of two and freelance columnist.