What Did I Do Wrong? - May 16, 2012

Whenever my daughter sits in time out, I’m always subjected to the routine lower lip extension and the question “what did I do wrong?”  She knows the answer, but I think she hopes that early Alzheimer’s might kick in someday and I won’t remember why I punished her.  Well, maybe not.  She’s only three. She probably just wants to see whether I’ll cave into her devilish cuteness.


Today, my daughter’s preschool teacher summoned me at daily pick up to discuss her behavior.  As a parent, I feel like my daughter’s actions are a direct reflection of me.  I’m helping to build her and if I’m not attentive enough, I might forget something important like the windows or maybe even part of the foundation.  Maybe she’ll be built of steel, but I won’t have anticipated something could strike her, increase her temperature and she could collapse.


I’m always concerned I haven’t accounted for ALL of the possibilities of failure, when I make decisions in regards to her.  So, when I was taken aside by her teacher, I felt like a school kid being sent to the principal’s office, but I had no idea why.  “What did I do wrong?” echoed in my mind.


“We had an incident with your daughter today.  Her friend was playing with a yellow hoola hoop.  Your daughter wanted the yellow hoola hoop and demanded it from her friend.  Instead of asking nicely, she just took it.  When I asked her to ask nicely, say please and share, she refused and ran to another station.  I tried to talk to her again and she screamed she didn’t want to.  I’ve been trying to explain to her about sharing.  Just something you might want to work with her on at home,” said the teacher.


Feeling incredibly grateful for the sunglasses covering my eyes that, hopefully, concealed my mortification, I replied, “She can be a bit stubborn at times.  I will definitely discuss this with her at home and work with her to share.  Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention.”


With the single-file, line of parent’s listening behind me, I felt like I had just tripped and fallen flat on my face in a lunch line.  I always expected my daughter would have some issues sharing, being an only child, just not this soon.  When we got home, I did some role playing, read some Dora the Explorer manners books to her and tried to motivate her share to with me.  Let’s just say she had at least 5 time outs in 2 hours.  I stopped counting when she wouldn’t share my own chair with me.


As parents we are so hard on ourselves.  I’m sure every parent in that line behind me has been in the same boat.  It’s just hard when it’s our own kid’s life preserver that malfunctions.


And, so the parental time out begins.  Parental time out is the time after the talk it takes for me to figure out how to fix the problem.  Someone suggested one minute of time out per child’s age.  What’s the ratio for parental detention?  Sometimes, I clock more than 2 hours.  I’m old, but I’m not 120 old.


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