Today I took the kids out to breakfast. When we were on our way home from getting muffins, Samara and Ari ran off and started climbing the steps of every brownstone on our block. Finally, I’d had enough so I used my scary stern voice and told them to come hold my hand “right now” or they weren’t going to watch Despicable Me two.
Ari obeyed, ran up to me and grabbed my hand. Samara, however, continued to run amuck laughing. I knew I had to do something or we weren’t getting home anytime soon, so I grabbed her hand and tried to walk down the street with her.
She started wailing “I don’t wanna hold your hand! No no no!” But I ignored the tantrum and kept a firm grip on her tiny but stubborn hand.
She continued to scream and then proceeded to sit down in the middle of the sidewalk. So I repeatedly sat up up straight and took her hand as she continued to scream and kept on walking with gritted teeth. I could feel my body tighten up internally as this was happening. My my jaw was clenched in frustration.
After what seemed like eternity, we arrived home and she was still screaming. I handed the kids off to Wil and went back out to catch the train. I was on my way to get my eyebrows done for my impending job interview.
On the D train I heard the sounds of a tiny voice screaming and crying “I want to get off! Next stop! Next stop!” It was a boy who looked about Ari’s age. The mom was attempting to comfort him.
All of a sudden I felt my heart clench up. I felt for this child. I felt for his mother, who had far more patience than I did with Samara 10 minutes ago.
I approached the pair and said to the little boy “It looks like you want to get off the train. What stop do you get off at?”
“Canal Street!” He cried.
“Oh, well that’s coming up soon. If you look out the window I bet you can see Canal street when the train goes outside.”
He stopped crying for a moment and sniffed a couple of times. The mom smiled at me.
“How old is he?” I asked.
“Six, but he’s special.” She said. It looked as if English wasn’t her first language. What I believe she meant was that her son had special needs.
“My son is five and he still acts like that sometimes.”
“Thank you.” said the mom looking directly into my eyes,
With that, I left them alone and went back to my seat. But my mood had completely changed. I understood how Samara must have felt in that moment. Confused, angry, scared, and out of control.
Meeting that mother and child on the train was meant to teach me something. I’m not sure quite what that is yet.
One thing that occured to me was that sometimes it’s easier to be sympathetic towards other people’s children because you don’t see and deal when them every day like you do your own.
Another thought that came to mind was I need to be aware of my frustration levels when parenting my kids and try to be more understanding of their emotional needs. But it’s hard in that moment where you are exhausted and just want your kid to stop crying.
I’m not a perfect parent. No one is. But today, my eyes were opened by how I could be present for my child.