The Line

It’s been a bit of an adventure around here lately. But at least no one’s bored, right?

Saturday, my car died. What was especially tragic about this was we were supposed to go to the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum with my friend H and her family (her husband T, A Boy and A Girl). They had stayed with us overnight Friday, and we were all having a very nice time. We were all excited to go to the museum on Saturday.

But my car wouldn’t start, and there was no where to put four children and three adults for the ride. I sent H and her family on their way, after Flora’s tantrum, described below (they had to change plans on the way to the museum, too, unfortunately).

Flora cried and cried. “My whole day is ruined,” she wailed.

I felt exactly the same way.

And then she yelled at me, “You can’t do anything right! You never do anything right!”

And I told her I would put her in a 5 minute time out if she said anything like that to me again.


Yesterday, my car got fixed while I was at work, and I made arrangements with my ILs to pick it up, and then go pick up Dan. I had the kids in the car with me to go pick up my husband. My ILs have enough on their plates, too; they didn’t need to watch my kids while I ran around town. (Nanny fell Friday night, and is in the hospital again. She’s okay, but she did need surgery because she broke her hip again.)

We were taking turns picking songs to listen to on the iPod. It was all going fine until Flora wanted to listen to a lullaby for her “baby”. The girls had both brought stuffed animals along for the ride, and were pretending they were baby animals. Flora’s puppy, Buppy, was tired and wanted to sleep.

The closest thing I have to lullabies on my iPod is the album Rabbit Songs by Hem.

Kate was not having it. Kate does not like slow songs. (Especially slow, pretty songs. That girl is a punk rocker already.)

She set about with the wailing and gnashing of teeth. I turned off the radio. “Fine,” I said. “If you can’t take turns, we won’t listen to any music.”

“You’re mean, Mommy!” Kate cried from the back seat.


I try to make it very safe for my children to express their emotions. I’m trying to teach them respect and — I don’t know how to put it: teach them to be in touch with their feelings. I don’t mean that in a New Agey way — I want Kate and Flora to be able to have, identify, and express their thoughts and feelings. I guess I’m hoping to teach them good habits now so they don’t fall into bad habits later (second guessing their emotions, not being able to talk about how they feel, not saying what they mean, etc.).

When Flora was upset about our change in plans on Saturday, I let her know that it was okay to be sad, and it was okay to be angry. What had happened to my car was not within my control. If I could change it I would, but I couldn’t. I was sad, too. I let her cry and I let her stomp her feet.

When Kate was upset because she didn’t like the music Flora had picked, I told her it was okay for her to not like the music. But she still had to take turns. If she couldn’t do that, then no one would get to listen to music. She didn’t like that option, either.

It’s okay to have and express feelings. It’s not okay to be mean.* That’s the line they cannot cross.

In teaching my children to respect their own thoughts, opinions, and feelings, it’s important to teach them to respect others, too.

I hope I’m doing it well.

* (Credit to H who was upset on my behalf when Flora told me I couldn’t do anything right.)