All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Sunday, 2 April 2006

Am I A Bad Parent?

I shouldn’t have laughed so hard when Dana, in a voice of sheer exasperation told me that she wanted to either have Shira adopted or sold on eBay. This, being a couple of hours before Dana was due to go and spend Shabbat with her parents, leaving me in charge of four very active little girls.

Shira’s escapade had consisted of taking her mother’s keys (car, house etc) and putting them somewhere where they patently didn’t want to be found. Dana had searched the house for over two hours getting more and more desperate. In the end, the girls had to be brought home from school by three different mothers.

If this latest act weren’t bad enough, Shira is still refusing to use the toilet to deposit her natural wares. Our super-bright 2½ year old knows exactly how to use the said apparel, but, for reasons only known to herself, chooses not to. Dana therefore spends much of her time shovelling and cleaning you-know-what from every corner of the house. She has said that Shira is the first of our children to literally bring her tears, which is no mean feat, granted that the other three weren’t exactly easy.

Anyway, I digress. Dana left and Shabbat came in. After a pretty stressful week at school, I was really in no mood to put up with more crap (literally and figuratively) from kids, albeit my own. Please don’t get me wrong. I do not in any way begrudge Dana for going to her parents (she needed the break); I just wasn’t in the best of spirits to take over the parenting tasks.

Friday night went relatively smoothly. The girls on the whole complied with my wishes and Shira stayed dry. The first twelve or so hours of Shabbat went past without incident…

Shabbat morning came along and after Shira had watered the downstairs hallway, we walked en masse to Shul (synagogue) a journey which went remarkably well.

The problems however, began when we got back, i.e. the fighting/squabbling, trashing the house etc. With Shabbat being what it is, the things that I could (or wanted) do with the kids were limited to say the least, so I let them play together.

By 3 p.m. when the screaming, fighting, mess making etc had driven me to utter distraction, I could feel myself about to lose it with the little darlings and rather than getting into the whole ”father going ballistic” routine, I locked all four in their bedroom and went downstairs. For the first time in almost a day, I felt a soothing calm descend upon me. I spent the next hour tidying up the downstairs and generally relaxing. It was only after listening out for some sort of harmonious sound emanating from the room, that I ventured upstairs and let them out.

The girls were understandably not best pleased at having been incarcerated for nearly an hour. My logic had said to me that on balance, by physically distancing myself from them, I would be saving myself from totally losing it and as a result and having to eat guilty humble pie for the foreseeable future. Yet, a day later and I still feel as guilty as hell for my actions.

My question to you is this -am I a bad parent?

If Social Services were to hear of what I did, would I get into serious trouble and risk my kids being taken away from me?

Most importantly, what else could I have done – keeping in mind that the weather was very on and off, Shira is not potty trained and although a walk around the block might have helped, my tolerance level being what it was, I might have seriously lost it with any of them in the event that they did anything (and I mean even the smallest misdemeanour) wrong (like running too far ahead).

Am I bad parent?


Tense Teacher said...

Absolutely not!
You did not deprive your girls of food or any of their other basic needs, and it certainly did not hurt them to play in their rooms for an hour. My family used to lock my cousins and me out of the house for several hours when they were cleaning house; if we had to use the restroom, we were told to "find a tree." When I think back on bad childhood memories, those are not the ones that come to mind... Your girls may be angry with you for a few minutes, and you may feel guilty, but they are fine...
Hang in there.

The Teacher said...

thank you!