I don’t know how well I did as a mom tonight . I guess some nights are just like that. It started with my perhaps overly ambitious attempts to make pan fried sole for dinner. There is a restaurant in South Africa called Willoughbys, and they make these divine sole, served in a glorious copper pan, with a delectable lemon butter sauce and a dash of delicious rice. I really wanted my fish to look like that. Delectable and delicious and divine. It ended up a bit salty and brown and shriveled. More like the chewy dried “yellowtail” from the cafe we weren’t supposed to frequent in town. Plus, I now have permanent scars on my left wrist and right palm. Indelible memories of frying fish, in my wifebeater, while my Maxim rolled around his bedroom floor, sobbing about how unhappy he is.
It’s the story of my life. Every evening at around 5:30pm, Max melts down. OK, sometimes it’s the morning at around 8:15am. And sometimes it’s 2:45pm. But Max melts down. And boy is it sad. When Max melts down, he’s the saddest kid in the world. And of course, I’m the worst mom. This week we’ve been trying a reward system. My theory is that he’s conditioned to behave like this at home, and that we need something to break the cycle. And since I don’t believe in punishing a child for being highly emotional, I settled on a reward for controlling his feelings.
Come on people, it’s not the bad. Men cheat on their wives and then give them diamonds to make them happy. Maybe that’s not the best analogy, but why shouldn’t it work on a 4.5 year old? So on Sunday I went to Target, bought a big clear plastic box, and filled it with all of the Bakugan and Ironman toys a preschooler could dream of. Make no mistake, this technique didn’t come from any of the parenting books I’ve pored over in the past few months. “Parenting The Intensely Emotional Child”, “Parenting 1-2-3”, “Becoming The Parent You Want To Be” and “Screw You, Your Kid Is In Control” make no mention of rewarding your sobbing child for calming down, so I happened upon this brilliant plan myself. You see, the people from the parenting books don’t have a kid who can graze open his entire left leg and not flinch, but will scream as if he’s been axed in the head, if his brother looks at him the wrong way. It’s desperate measures for desperate times, and it worked for most of Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday he lost ownership of the prized tiny skateboard for having an utter conniption over eating ground beef at dinner, and tonight he reached a fever pitch when I told him that he could only get his reward in the morning, since I’d have to see how the evening went.
And it went badly. When I finally managed to get him into bed and down to a quiet whimper, he told me, in no uncertain terms, that perhaps he’d be ok when he’s a teenager. I can live in hope. In the meantime, I sit here, with my tail between my legs and a large tub of boy’s trinkets at my feet, nursing my fried fish burns, and wondering if I can hold my breath until he’s 15. Maybe I’ll have the parenting thing figured out by then.