Working full-time at a fairly demanding job and often having to stay a little later, we don’t get home until about 6:30 or 7pm each night. Given that bed time is at 8:30pm, that gives us approximately 1.5-2hrs to cram everything in before Ella’s bedtime. She wants me to stay with her for a bit at bed time and often I end up crashing out too as I’m exhausted from an early start (I get up early before she gets up in the morning to either catch up on work or do non-mommy related things). That means we need to cook and eat dinner, practice piano, work with her on her reading and/or homework, give her a bath, brush and floss her teeth, and pick out clothes to wear for the next day (which often is a whole ordeal in itself!) and in that limited period of time.
Today was not a good day. I am not naturally patient to begin with so I knew having a child would definitely put my patience to the test. This is one of the reasons we decided to have only one child as I knew myself all too well.
Not sure if it was stress from work or if it was the pressure of Ella not getting her piano homework the last couple of days but I lost it a little (or maybe a lot) today. I felt myself feeling the clock ticking down as though a bomb was going to go off if I couldn’t get everything done in time. I was hurrying her up to finish her dinner so we could get through the rest of the list.
We then started piano practice. We started with the same four flashcards (F3, G4, D4, B3) and despite pretty much daily practice/repetition for a week and a half, for some reason it has been groundhog day every day we practice. I obviously am not teaching her in the way that she learns best but I tried everything I could think of with helping her read the note on the flashcards and correspond them with the note on the keyboard. I was getting her to play the note and say it out loud and then showing her the flashcard with the note afterwards, making a game to see who can find the notes the fastest, showing her the flashcard and demonstrating playing it myself on the piano and asking her to repeat it back to me, working on a blank staff and getting her to draw the note on the staff and then showing her and then asking her to play it on the piano, praising/doing high fives with her when she got one right and all combinations of these methods.
Despite this we sit down today and again she has no clue where any of the notes are so we start the process again. So my voice starts to raise a bit and my fuse gets shorter and shorter as the 20 minute practice session ends up being the longest 20 minutes for me and her. I probably should have stopped at around 10 minutes when I started to hear myself get frustrated but for she seemed to almost get it so I pushed on.
With time a ticking, we head up to practice reading her book as tomorrow it’s her turn this week to read a book of her choice out loud to the class. She has just started learning to read short words over the last couple of months at school and reinforced with the books sent home for homework. This is her first time being chosen to do this and I was nervous for her. Initially she wanted to read a GR2 equivalent princess book as of course she’s obsessed with princesses but we talked her into a book that was a bit more manageable – Goodnight Moon. Even though this was easier, it was still a far cry from her current ability to read three letter words but she was eager and didn’t want anything to do with the really “baby books”.
She wanted to play the teacher and I was the student to practice reading her book out loud which we did successfully yesterday. As she started reading, I noticed her nails were long so I told her to hold on as I went to get the nail clippers. She told me to come back and ask permission as I was the student but in my attempt to just get things done, I still proceeded to go to the bathroom to grab the nail cutters “without permission”. When I came back, she had a melt down and told me I wasn’t listening and that all students have to ask permission from the teacher to leave. I didn’t think this was a big deal as we were only pretending to be in school for the purpose of her practicing her reading but this rationale didn’t cut it. She cried and got upset and told me I ruined everything. My fuse got shorter and shorter.
After about 5 minutes of her being upset and now knowing that it was 8:30pm and we still hadn’t done the other things on the list, I started to raise my voice. I gave her a choice – either we finish reading or we stop and get ready for bed. She was still upset and she didn’t want any of the choices given. I gave her a third choice which was for me to leave and come back when she calmed down (and me as well) but she clung onto my leg and wouldn’t let me leave. Again after 10 minutes of this back and forth and my voice getting louder and louder (yes – I was yelling at this point), she told me I was the “worst mommy ever”. Wow that hit me like a ton of bricks!
It took a bit but I finally got myself calmed down, I apologized for being upset, tried to explain why I was upset and yelling, tried to explain why I left “without permission” and after a little more discussion, she finally calmed down and accepted my apology. I threw the 8:30pm bed-time out the window and figured we would get to bed when we got to bed – it wouldn’t kill her (or more like it wouldn’t kill me). She then read me the book, we did the remaining things left to get ready for bed and went to sleep just before 10pm!
Today was not a good day but hopefully tomorrow will be…..
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