United Front

June 30th, 2010

Whew. This afternoon was “one of those days” in one’s life as a parent that makes you question the wisdom of having multiple children. Miss Mouse has been a bit off the last couple days — I suspect it’s the combined impact of a cold and a late night on Monday — and grouchy doesn’t begin to describe her. She spent most of the afternoon in absolute hysterics, screaming and crying at the top of her lungs.

As luck would (not) have it, for whatever reason, I also felt like Josh and I weren’t firing on all cylinders as team parents. I’m fortunate to have a wonderfully dedicated and engaged man as the father of my child, so I never feel like we’re playing for different teams. There are days, though, when it seems like perhaps we’re on different pages of the playbook.

When I got home this afternoon, Mouse wanted a snack. Often, when it’s just us, we snuggle up on the couch together to read a story while she munches on crackers or whatever. Josh isn’t a big fan of this and is starting to be more firm in enforcing the “we only eat at the table” rule.

Fair enough. I’m theoretically on board with this, but cracker crumbs in the couch bother me less than him, so I probably would have let it slide, given the precarious state of yon Mousie’s temperament today.

However, I am a big believer in the importance of the United Parental Front. Kids learn to divide and conquer amazingly early on and I think that it is important that parents present a unified message and not undermine each other. Until this afternoon, we hadn’t had many times when this was an issue so my beliefs were mostly theoretical. And I found that my first (and strong) impulse was to reach over and pick the wailing snotty creature out of her chair and let her sit in my lap to eat her snack.

But I didn’t. It was a moment of growth for me as a parent to realize that she wasn’t in danger of Death by Booster Seat and that it was worth it to hear her shriek for a while for her to know that when Daddy sets a boundary, Mommy isn’t going to overrule him. Tough love all the way around.

And she survived. And ate her snack. And then had six more tantrums before bedtime. I’m ready for bed, myself!

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