This morning was a little bit like Hell; a veritable comedy of errors that chipped away at my confidence and self worth and had me in tears by around 9.36 at the indoor swimming pool.
Essentially, it had not been a good morning.
Not helped by my missing, for the third week running, my walk-and-coffee with a friend. Instead, I was treated to the Pre-School Swimming Lessons that I really, really do try to look forward to, even if it’s thrust upon me at the last minute and fucks with my day.
I do try to look at it along the lines of “I don’t usually get to see this, it will be fabulous to see what he is now capable of doing” and be all excited about what treat I may be in for.
It wasn’t what I expected.
His friend wasn’t there, but Chippie was happy to jump in the toddler pool and play about, anyway.
Then came time for his lessons, which is his cue to be all stubborn and obstinate and walk to the middle of the pool where I couldn’t reach him.
I put on my stern voice, the voice my children just cannot argue with because they know … oh, how they know not to … and he, begrudgingly, wandered to the side, balled his fists up, informed me “I’m getting very angry wif you” and slowly made his way out of the pool.
Without fail, and as per normal, he did his “I don’t want to go in” but cooperated anyway. It’s … well, I don’t really know what it’s like; perhaps he’s trying to let me know that he knows he is to cooperate, and actually wants to join in, but doesn’t want me to feel like I’ve “won”.
Which is dumb, because I don’t play it like there is a winner or loser. He just can’t do what’s asked if he’s been asked to do it. Craziness.
To make clear his pissed-offedness point, he splashes his way through the wading pool, walks straight up to another mum, sitting in the inch deep water observing her toddler, and kicks water at her.
She looks horrified – but nowhere near as horrified, nay, mortified as I am. She assures me it’s ok and that she needed to get wet anyway, but I think that’s because I scared her when I explained to Chippie how not ok that behaviour was.
(I’m also fairy sure those in the carpark across the road also got it.)
It’s life saving week, so the children don life jackets. Well, the other children don life jackets. Chippie is still in Obstinate Mode and I cannot find the switch. I do mumble something about not worrying about the jacket, and I’ll happily toss him in without one at this stage.
His teacher is brilliant, and very much like me; ignore it, we’ll just keep going as though he’s cooperating and pretend all is well.
So I left him and walked up the other end, where he continued to scream, but didn’t move away or chase me or run off.
Moments later, I saw him clad in a life jacket, bobbing about in the middle of the pool, still screaming, his teacher behaving as though it wasn’t happening.
Jeebus, I love her!
I moved around to another spot, so I would be out of his eyeline, and endured more than a few “oh, poor little boy” looks.
Fuck the poor little boy, I thought. What about me?!
He kept it up, not because he didn’t want to join in, but because it was me, and not his dad, and he was seeing how far he could go.
He climbed out, stood beside the pool and cried some more. A few mums looked around, and, with a wave that appeared non-chalant and not “kill me now” or “bring me vodka, in a vat!” I assured them he was ok.
One had a word to him, before wandering over to me and saying “It’s hard, isn’t it, when they cry like that?”
I started to tear up, she assured me all was ok, that she had three boys and knows what this is like.
I told her I understood.
But it’s not his crying that I found hard.
It’s not even the looks – or comments – from others … well, those who imply I’m being horrible.
What I find hard is acknowledging and accepting that I have a child that can be a right little arse at times.
And a complete little fucker at other times.
And words I prefer not to use on this blog …
What’s hard is knowing you are doing the best you can, with everything you have, and you’re bringing them up “right” and they can still do some arsehead things.
What’s hard is accepting that, sometimes, you have little to no control over some of the things they can – and do – do, that they, quite literally, are their own person.
This is not excusing some behaviours, not suggesting I sit back and allow them to happen; I don’t, and I won’t.
But sometimes they throw in something you don’t expect, that you think you have covered in some other area, with some other discipline or behaviour guiding … and sometimes it’s not nice.
What’s hard is knowing that it is, in one respect, not a reflection of you or how you parent, and is, to a degree, beyond your control.
The crying, even the put on like it was, I can handle, and no hearts were damaged in the process.
But a child that does even the slightest action that goes beyond all your own morals and values – that’s hard.
That moment that you really dislike your child … that’s the hardest.
He finished his lesson, going through the requirements, screaming the whole time.
He climbs out, walks towards the toddler pool, stops crying and is about to hop in when I look at him, grab his arm and mumble “I don’t fucking think so.”
This, inevitably, starts off a fresh round of tantrum, as though the last half hour weren’t enough. This one, however, is genuine … he really does want to play.
After his carry on with his lesson, there is not a chance… so I ask of him, “When have you ever got what you wanted when you scream at me like that? Now put your undies on, or you can go home naked … and you know I’ll do it!”
We leave, him kicking and screaming, me contemplating whether I can surreptitiously strap him into the car seat of the car with the open door we’ve just past.
The school ring. Monkey Boy has thrown up …