25.4.10

Full Disclosure

In the interests of full disclosure, I have something to reveal to you.

No, I'm not a 13 year old boy, or a mullah from Iran. No, I'm not secretly selling my follower information to facebook's advertisers.

I'm a bad parent.

Beyond the I-read-my-email-while-the-kids-make-themselves-sandwiches kind of bad parent. Even beyond the they-didn't-brush-their-teeth-this-morning-and-my-son's-wearing-dirty-socks-and-no-underwear kind of bad parenting. And way beyond the I-yell-at-them-all-day-long variety of bad parenting.

Imagine looking this in the face
My baby - the 19 month old was in this position a couple of days ago. Staring straight into the grille of a large truck while standing in the middle of the road.

He was playing in the kitchen while I was in the next room finishing up some email correspondence.

His brother had just come in from outside.

His brother has a tendancy to leave doors open, despire repeated reminders.

So when it got quiet and I called out his name and there was no response, I should have known right away. And when I saw the mudroom door open I really should have known. But I thought his brother has just gone out again.

It wasn't until I looked out the window and saw two cars stopped in front of my house and one of my neighbours jumping out of her vehicle that I knew why I was feeling so uneasy.

He had put on his brother's shoes, walked out the two open doors and was on his way across the street when our truck-driving neighbour saw him and stopped.

No, there was no screeching of tires. There were no screams of terror, except in my head.

Another neighbour got out of her car, took him by the hand and was leading him back to the house by the time I reached the driveway.

"He's okay," she said, calmly and reassuringly.

"I'm not," I replied.

There were no nasty stares or words of recrimination, just smiles and nods and pats on the arm.

But I'm definitely a bad parent.

There was also the time my daughter, my second born, was ill and had been up a lot at night. She was 2 months old and I fell asleep nursing her on the sofa. She fell from my arms onto the hard wooden floor. She seemed okay, so I didn't rush to the hospital (which would have been a 3 hour drive as we were staying in a cabin at the time). But the next day she started projectile vomiting.

At the hospital, there were smiles and nods and pats on the arm. "She's okay," they said. "I'm not," I replied.

I knew then I was a bad parent.

Then there was the time my eldest, my son, dissapeared while going for a walk with his Daddy at a large mall. He was almost two. "Call security," I told my husband, as I started madly dashing to all the places I thought he might have gone. Ten minutes later he was located; my husband hadn't called security or he would have been found sooner. The store manager with him gave me a nasty look and asked "why was he missing from you so long." I started to explain myself and then got angry.

"He's okay," I told her, "nothing happened. I feel bad enough, but his father was watching him and he got away. It happens to everyone."

"Not to me," she replied.

I guess she's one of those not-bad-parents I hear so much about.

But given the number of times my kids have been close to danger and I've received nods and smiles and pats on the arm, I think the majority of us are more like me.

Strangely enough, I felt like a worse parent when people were sympathetic than when they attacked me. Which means I probably learned a better lesson from those moments too.

So next time you see a "bad parent," perhaps it's more effective to sympathise than criticise.

Just a thought.

Have you had those moments too? Or am I the only bad parent after all?

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