Thursday, March 8, 2012

I Need a Parenting Manual...

Why is there no manual for parents? One that lets you flip to the necessary chapters—“Homework Hassles” or “Friends or Foes?” or “How Long will the Mood Swings Last?”

I needed one tonight.

My oldest has just started fencing, and the coaches seem to think that he has some potential. They asked us to come several days a week. Which he enjoyed until tonight. My oldest has a bit of a dramatic tendency as well as some math anxiety, which is never a good combination. Today it all came together in one tear-filled, combustible mix.

He was working on math homework in my classroom while I was at my faculty meeting. When I came back, he looked up and said quaveringly, “I don’t want to go to fencing tonight.” There were already tears in his eyes.

The gist was that he was having trouble with a question on his homework. (In fact, I had trouble with it--it was a bad question and I couldn’t figure out why they were making this more difficult and wrong than it should be).  Usually he can get over it and move on, but not today.

My husband came in to check in and get the hand-off of our other two children and our oldest was sitting in a chair taking deep (dramatic) breaths and blinking back tears. So my husband tried to talk with him (note to self—don’t try to have a rational discussion with a hormonal pre-adolescent), which went about as well as your average iceberg-bound ocean liner.

So my husband and other kids left, I got my stuff together, and we walked out to the car. I tried to be cheery on the way to fencing and he tried to pretend that he wasn’t on the verge of a total meltdown.

Fencing was difficult, he was emotional and trying to hide it, and he couldn’t shake it all evening.

Finally, it was time for bed and he asked for me to come and tuck him in and get in a little snuggle. Usually this fixes things and calms him.  Not tonight.

Tonight he came in to our room at midnight and was just upset. We had him climb in, and he finally fell asleep, cocooned between us, with my arm and my husband’s arm draped over him.

 I would have liked a manual that let me figure out how to make him feel better a whole lot sooner.

But then I might have missed this midnight snuggle—and times like this don’t come around as often as he gets bigger.


  1. When you find the manual, would you please send it my way? :) Oh, how we do love our children!!! Your son feels very secure with you, which is the number one thing I have found with our children. Blessings to you. Your use of the asides are precious. I especially like the (note to self) one.

  2. Poor kid. I hope he feels better tomorrow. Now about that manual -- can I get on the waiting list just in case?