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Don't you dare cross that masking tape!

One of those mornings- you know when everything seems against you and it's almost akin to finishing the 10th mile in a half marathon in the split time you want to get out the door to an event 10 minutes away by 10:30 am. The 2 year old up at 4:30 am. Me slothing around loathing myself in a robe until 9:59 am. Then deciding we'd better all hurry up and get dressed because the summer concert I'd hoped to attend glared at me from the newspaper cut out of upcoming summer library events. It is today and it starts at 10:30 and we are going. I am determined to have fun and be the mom who takes her kids to the free library concerts and watches them dance all while taking cute videos and pictures for social media and their dad to look adoringly at while at work.

Well apparently there are a lot of other moms with the same idea and we park far away - I am still determined marching my 2 and 3 year old toward the already playing music. I don't have a stroller, I rely on their good behavior and obvious excitement for the music. The courtyard area in front of the library is packed with mothers and their babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Most moms look showered, well dressed, and have sweet outdoor blankets laid out which match their children's well stocked diaper bags. Everyone is smiling and participating in the hand motions. Most of all - somehow ALL of the children are next to their mothers or politely dancing within an appropriate distance from each other near the man playing guitar.

I should have just left. However, we made it here. Who's to say my children cannot behave appropriately at the summer library concert? It seemed dozens of others loved it. I saw a way to sneak up the side and stand all the way toward the far front corner where my kids could go up front and effortlessly join the model preschoolers and toddlers motioning to "ants in my pants" in a way which seemed staged.

My 3 year old son saw what to do and followed along- true to his personality. My 2 year old daughter on the other hand... well she began by being terrified of the whole scenario and hid her face in my shoulder. This was okay with me until she bit my arm. I know I should have left. I should have thought this is too much for her. She is trying to tell me she is overstimulated.

BUT this is the summer library concert  I have had the date on my refridgerator for a month. Didn't she know that? Even though she woke me up at 4:30 am I took her here! Because I love her and want to send cute videos of her dancing. We even parked really far away. We weren't leaving. She was going to have fun. I put her down. She ran away from me through the sea of anti-microbial lavender infused blankets. She reached the performer who had this rectangle of masking tape surrounding him as if to say to everyone - don't cross this line. You can do your cute dancing on one side of the tape and not any closer. She paused. She looked at the tape. She looked at me. She stood at the edge of the tape for what seemed like an eternity and picked her foot up and stomped to the other side.  There she stood in her super girl costume on the wrong side of the tape.  In front of the entire city of moms. There was no way I could reach her without stepping on a baby or worse putting my dirty flip flop clad foot on a clean outdoor blanket. My face felt hot as I thought for a moment - maybe no one will know she's mine. Then I saw the librarian staring at me, take her hand and walk her over to me. My soul crumpled. Dana to the principal's office now. Please take your unruly hooligans and return to your couch and bathrobe. This event is for moms and children who behave.

My son came up to me and said he wasn't having fun - it was too loud and could we please just go in the library and check out books and a movie. Sure. That was the best five minute concert. Ever.

My daughter was not through with her behavior. Let me take a moment to say when you have two or more children the whole discipline thing gets a little fuzzy. Like if it was just her - we would have gone home immediately, But why should my son who is being well behaved miss out on the promised book and movie? That's really not fair. Well after my angelic two year old did not share the plastic toys at the toddler play area and hit a little girl who tried to take one - we were so done. I had to break the news to my almost 4 year old. Super girl is going back to home base folks.

He broke down crying. I tried to explain to him  - I know it's not fair. She's making bad choices - we have to go I pleaded. I didn't have a stroller. My car was far away. I'm in the library with a surly 2 year old and a boy who is crying telling me he "feels frustrated" he "feels sad" he "feels angry" which I am so proud of him for saying, but we need to go. I totally had an out of body experience here you guys. I'm not kidding. It's like I was another person doing something important at the library casually observing the whole scene and thinking - wow that mom is such a push over. Wow that mom had kids really close together. How old are they? She needs to discipline her kids. She is too strict. She is so loud at the library. Shhhhhhh. 
Finally I say, "Look. I hear you. I know you are really frustrated because I said we could check out a movie. Go quickly over there and grab one and then we will go." He takes a deep breath gives me a hug and walks over to the children's movies. My thoughts are racing - I messed up. I gave in because he cried. I am doing this all wrong.

And then you know what happened? I'm sitting on this blue plastic couch in the toddler play area and a woman says to me, "That was amazing."


She looks me square in the eye from across the toddler area so everyone can hear- "I can't believe how you calmed him down. I was watching in disbelief. I wish I recorded that so I could learn from  you. I am a nanny now, (gestures to a toddler playing next to her), and my kids are much older, but I have never seen anything like that. You are an amazing mom and are doing a great job. It's so hard when they are little like this."

I stammered, "Thank you. Really thank you. I really appreciate you saying that, because it doesn't feel like I am."

Then she went about her business. And my son came back with a movie. And everything changed. We checked out the books and movie and walked back to the car - uneventfully for the most part.

Everything that happened that morning was my perception. My expectations. My inability to pay attention and to do what my kids and I needed. I highly doubt the entire crowd consisted of well behaved toddlers and preschoolers and perfect moms, but that is what I saw because that is where I felt vulnerable today. This woman shone light into my darkness and told me a truth I needed to hear. I am doing my best. How I handled the situation was okay. Can we stop being so hard on ourselves as parents and know we are doing amazing because we are? No one there told me anything negative other than myself.

However, it may be awhile before I attend anything with tape laid down daring my daughter to cross.


  1. Great post, Dana! You are a fantastic mom!!


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