There is nothing like having your parenting on public display during the most challenging moments with your children. For instance, I recently had one of those days that you hope does not repeat. I had to take the dog in to the vet to have a limp assessed, and decided to brave it by taking the children with me. I could have worked harder to find childcare, or scheduled the vet appt on a day I work and have childcare arranged. But being an optimist, I took them all to the vet, my anxious pitbull, tired 7 year old, and limit testing almost three year old. After my kids quickly got bored with the kid play area in the waiting room, and my dog begin howling and barking at another dog, we were quickly ushered into our exam room. Usually things move quickly at the vet office, but not this day. We had quite a wait, during which my son continually wanted to open the heavy swinging door a peep to look into the waiting room, my daughter wanted to hold it herself, yelling at “Bubba” to move, placing her fingers at risk for being sliced off should the door close on them, and causing my dog to become anxious all over again. I threatened to suspend our trip to the store if they could not behave. Note to self: do not tell them they are loosing priviledges if you want them to calm down. My daughter begin wailing over this news. Eventually they snuggled with Lia the dog on the floor, rolling and sliding all over the slick floor, collecting all the hair and dirt from previous patients. I set them to work counting pictures of dogs in the room, this worked briefly, but soon my three year old was hitting, spitting and yelling at my son (which has been fairly typical of late). Again I reminded them of our pending trip to the store, causing my daughter to wail “I want to go to the store again”. During this comotion, the vet tech came in, examined the dog and left some crayons and toys for the kids. They set to coloring papers on the floor, while we waited for the vet to return with shots and more info. Soon they were done coloring, and my daughter started in again, this time whacking my son in the eye with a plastic snake from the toy bin. He lost it, wailing and crying and claiming he could not see, I grabbed the offending snake and removed it from the mix, causing my daughter to also begin wailing (again). The vet returns, offers ice to my son, and goes to run an estimate on x-rays for Lia. I resort to letting my son play games on my iphone, and letting my daughter play with the ice. I take deep breathes, want to scream, but make every effort to use mindful, patient parenting skills. Vet comes back with a $600 estimate to try to diagnose the problem and asks if we want tranquilers for the dog, I say, “sure, but can I have some too?”
I did notice that I was keenly aware of my own reactions, my own parenting interventions, knowing that we were on display. I found myself critiquing and judging myself. Not sure if this helped or not, but I certainly stayed calm and mindful. I know I could benefit from parenting like this more often (calmly and mindfully) whether we are in public or not (minus the self judgements)! But for future Veterinary trips, I will certainly make every attempt to find childcare.
How is your public parenting different from private parenting?
Be kind to yourself,