Monday, August 1, 2011

Maintaining order or maintaining control?

There are times in mothering where I look back at something and wonder if I overreacted. Yesterday was one of those. Sometimes if I feel things are getting out of hand, I start barking orders. If the orders aren't followed immediately, I get mad. I take it personally. I kind of revert to the old school train of thought that kids should always obey and that it's a reflection on me if they misbehave or question my authority in the presence of others.

We were at a birthday party for my nieces and nephew. The kids were having a good time. They were rummaging through the loot they'd gotten from the pinata. One of the items was a stamper. One of the boys stamped his dad on the head. He thought it was funny. It was. He had a blue dinosaur smack in the middle of his forehead.

Then it escalated. Everyone was fair game. The kids were stamping each other. On the arm. On the leg. On the face. Everyone was giggling. No one was fighting. But I requested that they stop. My husband contended that they were having fun. My kids reminded me that I usually spoil the fun. They kept on with the stamping. I got more upset. I'm not sure if I was upset with the stamping craziness or the fact that I wanted them to stop and they wouldn't. It did go over the line when Grandpa was napping in a chair and was awakened to a T-Rex being stamped on his forehead. He wasn't amused.

Still, everyone else was laughing and having a good time. I was boiling inside. I took the stampers away from the kids. They found more. It just felt like things were out of control. I often like to be in control of things. I'm pondering the situation and wondering if I should have just backed off and let them enjoy themselves. I guess much of it was ego. I'd told them to stop and after a while, I realized it really was harmless fun, shaking my head each time I got stamped on the arm or one of them left a dinosaur mark on the other's cheek - but because I'd told them to stop, I felt like I had to follow through and make them stop. I was so frustrated by the time they'd finished. The mood went from fun to uneasy. We left with me mad at my husband for not backing me up and making them stop, my husband mad at me for being a party-pooper and the kids mad that they were leaving the party earlier than they wanted to.

The kids could have simply stopped when I told them to. Also, I could have lightened up and realized it was a party and that the weren't causing any harm (although, I'm surprised no one got bumped or knocked down in the process.) I think in the end, I stuck to my guns and got myself worked up not so much because things were noisy and seemed out of control, but because I wasn't in control. Lesson learned the hard way and a little too late.

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