Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Falling Down on the Job

I have had a few phenomenally bad parenting moments in the last couple of days. And I don't just mean reacting less than patiently when someone dumps and nearly full cup of juice all over the lunch table. As much as I cringe to think about them (one way worse than the other, but neither winning me any awards) I am going to share here with the hope that you will make me feel a little better by sharing your own semi-horrifying parenting moments or that someday someone else will be feeling badly and read this thinking, "Well at least I'm not the only one!"

The lesser of the offenses was brought to my attention this morning. I had paperwork from Michael's school because his "physician report" was outdated. We live right around the corner from our pediatrician so I assumed this would be no problem - after dropping the kids off this morning I hustled over there and was handing the paper off to the receptionist who thought she'd just check on the date of his three-year well visit. The only trouble being that he didn't have one. After all our winter illnesses and trips to the doctor I apparently overlooked the fact that he should have had another visit in there. I just completely and totally forgot. I think I also forgot his eighteen month appointment. Sorry, second child of mine. What is wrong with me? It isn't like we just had a busy month and I didn't get around to scheduling it - the thought of scheduling it never entered my mind.

So now it is scheduled, for Friday morning, and our paperwork will be straightened out by next week, but that was certainly an embarrassing couple of moments with the receptionist.

But now comes the really bad parenting moment - the one that could have had significantly tragic consequences and, I'll tell you right now, thankfully didn't end up badly. (Well unless you count my sobbing into a bowl of carrot peelings during dinner prep, which I don't.) Yesterday, late afternoon, I made a perfectly reasonable attempt to use the bathroom with a little privacy. A couple of minutes after I sat down, Matt returned home from work, walking into the house and yelling, "Where are you? Do you know that your children are outside?"  Um, no, I did not know that they children were outside (they couldn't have been out there for more than thirty seconds as I was moments before listening to the never-ending chorus of their arguing), I did not hear any doors open or shut, nor did I grant anyone permission to leave the house.

Even if we didn't live on a busy street (we do) and it wasn't about five p.m. and thereby an extra busy traffic time (it was) I would not let the children out into the front yard by themselves. Now I have, in the past, allowed Harper to walk to our curbside mailbox, which opens from the back, to place or retrieve some mail. BUT only during less busy traffic times and with my watching her every step from a front window.

What happened yesterday, apparently, was that Harper decided to take Michael outside to get the mail. And Matt pulled up as they were out in the yard. The chances of one of them getting abducted right out of our front yard are pretty slim, but, the way people on our street are prone to ignoring the 25mph speed limit, getting hit by a car is not so unlikely. By the time we, not so gently, hurried the kids back inside Matt was angry, I was angry and relieved and embarrassed and frustrated, and the kids were totally oblivious that they'd done anything upsetting. This is about when I burst into tears over the carrots because, really, is it so much to ask that I should be able to go to the bathroom without fear that my children are placing themselves in mortal danger and I am completely unaware of it? Should I still be bringing them into the bathroom with me?  Ugh.

I mean, miraculously, we're all still here and safe, missed doctor's appointments and random front yard wandering aside, but I'm still feeling a little inept.

Okay, your turn, feel free to go anonymous in the comments as you share your parenting mishaps - extra points if the children were technically in danger but not actually injured.


hwebb said...

Not one I'm willing to post here, but it's a doozy. If you really need something to make you feel better, I'll email it to you.

Swistle said...

You SHOULD be able to go to the bathroom without the kids getting hit by cars. That's not a bad parenting moment: you DO have to pee occasionally while on the job, and no previous experience had led you to believe that you should first duct-tape the kids to a wall.

In fact, the other one's not bad parenting either: you didn't say, "I don't care if my child isn't healthy," you just forgot an appointment---and our pediatrician's office sends reminder cards or else I'd NEVER remember my kids' appointments. Anything I only have to think of once per year is likely to get overlooked.

And YES, this does make me feel better about my own instances of unintentional on-the-job slippage. NO ONE doing ANY job can be perfect 100% of the time, but it feels more like we SHOULD be able to when the job is parenting and the stakes are so high.

Henry once got away from me and ran into a parking lot, darting right out from between two cars where it was easy to see how someone would have no time to brake (luckily no car was moving). Also, I once looked out the window to check on the older kids playing outside, and saw them using the pile of snow around the mailbox as a slide. The mailbox that is RIGHT NEXT TO THE ROAD. I've also let the kids jump on the bed, and then one has fallen off right on his head. I once drove all the way home from a store, and when we got home and I went to unbuckle my toddler I found he hadn't been buckled in. I fell on the stairs while carrying a baby. In a less life-threatening example, I totally failed to notice that Henry had gathered up a bag of chocolate chips and a scissors and was stuffing his face behind the dining room table. I totally forgot Henry's 18-month check-up. I gave William apples even though he's sensitive to them (I don't know if he's ALLERGIC or not, but his mouth itches and his lips puff up). I shut a child's finger in the bathroom door. Etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

tracy said...

Oh Kels. I am so sorry. All of this on top of feeling lousy!

The doctor thing -- totally no big deal. Because who really thinks about going to a doctor when your kid is well? And I'm not sure how your doctor rolls, but ours doesn't recommend any shots at 3 years, so it's not like you were behind on vaccinations or something. Totally, 100% ok.

And the other incident? While terrifying and maddening and completely anxiety-provoking, it is ok, too. It happens. Personally, I wouldn't say that YOU did anything wrong. You can't predict their every move, and kids do some pretty ridiculous stuff sometimes. I have a recent story that involves LOSING A CHILD (who proceeded to interact with several strangers before we ever realized she was lost!!) that I am happy to share with you the next time we chat.

I think those initial moments of being angry and upset are totally understandable, but don't beat yourself up over it. Just count your blessings, and start over tomorrow. I love you.

Giselle said...

Anyone who says they don't have stories like this is lying. Or they have full time child care and aren't aware that it has happened while they were away.

One that instantly sticks out is when I left Andrew downstairs to run up and change Michael (Lily was napping). Andrew was about 4.5 years old. I came back down from changing the baby, and Andrew says to me, "Mommy, I just met a really nice man."

After I finished freaking out, I discovered that my son had walked out the front door to say hello to a strange man that was walking down our street. Our street is not busy at all, so the fact someone was walking down the sidewalk in the middle of the day was noteworthy to the 4 year old. I didn't hear the door open...and he had enough time to go say hello and come back into the house. Imagine what else could have happened while I was changing the baby.

And that is just the first story that popped into my head.

You are normal. And human. And lucky that nothing happened. And so life goes on...

Anonymous said...

Well,obviously you would know if this hadn't turned out well, but i lost Ben (3 yr old) at the children's museum. it was christmas time and the museum is newer so it was packed. we were getting ready to leave and putting their coats on. one second he was there and the next second he was gone. as the babysitter and i started looking around i was fighting some major panic! i found him after almost 3 minutes (that's a long time in a very crowded place when you've lost a child). when i found him he was near the entrance and an unknown mom was trying to calm him down. i've never felt so sick to my stomach, embarrassed and pissed off that he didn't stay in one spot like i told him to do...all at the same time.

also, we put a latch on our screen door (way up high) so they can get out without asking as we also live on a busy street and they only have the front yard to play.

scary stuff, but it does happen to all of us Kels! Luckily, they are usually just good lessons to learn from.
Love you,

Emily said...

OH, yes, we ALL have these. Brian was pushing the shopping cart through Home Depot's parking lot, allowing Katy to stand in the cart, hit a bump and she fell out on her head. I think she was 3 or 4 and he said it was super scary and he felt awful. The scariest moment that I can think of like that is when she was three and we were leaving this shop that the door opened directly into the parking lot. I should have had her hand but I didn't. She walked out in front of me and happened to stop just as a car came speeding by. A matter of seconds different, or if she hadn't stopped for whatever reason....I was sick to my stomach for days. Playing the "what if" game can make you crazy.

Oh, and not to mention that David has broken his arm and severed the tip of his finger, both within my arm's reach!

Jill said...

most of the time i just fall on the 'bad parenting' end of the spectrum, losing patience over small things. I blame the hormones. although it could just be I'm a real witch.

bluedaisy said...

Good news: 3 sick visits=1 well :)
It's not like you haven't taken Michael to the doctor ever and why didn't the stupid doctor's office notice the missed appointment? The kids are on state insurance right now and they have an automated system where they CALL me and tell me to SCHEDULE THE DANG APPOINTMENT ALREADY!!! Annoying but helpful- maybe all insurances should do this? Anyway, I wouldn't let that one bug me. And the kids out the door? Honestly, it's a wonder it hasn't happened here yet. We have only one bathroom and it is upstairs. And Chloe's antics while I am RIGHT in the ROOM should lead us to an ER visit in no time (hopefully one involving a simple fix). Don't sweat it--even though they went outside, your kids stayed in the yard & that says alot :)

CARRIE said...

Arghhh! I wrote a big ole comment and blogger ate it!!

Don't even sweat that dr. appt. I have taken the kids for appts that they actually had but I had no idea what the appt was for or which doctor they were seeing or what time the appt was for. "Hi, I'm here for an appt but I have no earthly clue why."

Ok, so some of my stupid parent tricks:

1. When G was 3 weeks old (maybe less), I fell asleep holding him in my arms on my bed. I woke up when I heard the THUD!!!

2. I left the gate at the top of the stairs unlatched and G, who was crawling, fell down all 13 steps.

(G might be bat-shit nuts because of all the head trauma or because he is three. Not quite sure.)

3. Just last week, while G was helping me fix dinner, I turned around to do something and forgot that I left a very sharp knife on the cutting board right in front of him. The next thing I see is G with the knife in his hand trying to cut his finger. Lovely.

4. I can't count the number of times I have forgotten to strap my kids into their carseats.

Whenever I feel like "World's Worst Mom" I think about the lady who inhaled bath salts and dropped her kids on the interstate. Or the lady who drowned herself and 3 of her 4 kids.
If taking a piss by yourself makes you a bad parent, then CPS will be coming for kids soon.

Erin said...

Well, clearly I have LOTS to share in this regard. But first, I am so glad they are both unscathed. I had a similar incident with Calum the other day. He heard the garage door open when Daddy got home and went TEARING out the door to greet him. TOWARD A MOVING CAR. I was pretty mad at him too.

My falling-down-on-the-job moments are too numerous to recount. Also, I think the doctor one really doesn't count as a failure. That's a common overlooked thing. At least you don't bring your "healthy" child to a check up to find out they've got pneumonia. Or RSV. Or, um, send them to school so sick that they PASS OUT AND REQUIRE AN AMBULANCE.


You're doing a fantastic job.

Mommy Daisy said...

Whew, that's scary...and not your fault. Kids do things like that no matter how much we teach them. They don't see the danger in situations like we do. You did/are doing nothing wrong! Don't beat yourself up.

And about skipping well-child visits...don't sweat it. I purposefully didn't take my son to the doctor (AT ALL) from about 18 months until he was probably 3 1/2. He was a healthy child, and I just didn't get the point of paying a doctor for a pointless visit when everything was great. Then we started using a Flex Spend account, plus we have good insurance that covers 1 well check up per year, so I started doing them again. (He's still on a 1/2 year schedule because I threw that off though...meaning his 5 year check up isn't until he's actually 5 1/2.) And honestly when you've had your kids in for illnesses and such, I see no point for well check-ups. They would find problems then if there were any, plus we as parents would notice something wrong.