An Open Letter To My 4-Year-Old, Who Almost Made Me Lose It

Twenty20, rebekah
Twenty20, rebekah

Dear C,

I won’t mince words. You made me angry today.

I hadn’t been home for five minutes after a frustrating day at work when you started whining. You wanted candy and Daddy had already told you repeatedly that you couldn’t have it because you had already had an overly-sweetened weekend. The instant I walked in, you hit me up for whatever garbage food was in the cabinet. But I was on to you. I said no.

You screamed and I shot you one of those looks you should be familiar with by now: the one signaling my immensely short rope.

Twenty minutes later – which, incidentally, was five minutes before dinner – you asked for a snack. I halved a banana, brought it to you, and you promptly lost your mind. Over an effing banana. I read you the riot act.

Side note: when did I become a person who “reads the riot act” and talks about her “short rope”? When did I become a caricature of a mother?

After dinner, you asked to go on a walk and I kindly obliged. Maybe all you needed to do was walk off your bad mood. You played with the two-year-old girl who lives down the street and I was proud of how well you handled yourself. She’s smaller than you but you were kind and cooperative. But then her parents called her and her older brothers in for dinner and we started to walk home.

The jig was up. Your foul mood returned.

To spite me and my audacious insistence that we return home, you walked in the street and not on the sidewalk like I told you. You walked toward the setting sun, unable to see oncoming traffic.

I seethed. It’s one thing when you’re rude on purpose, but when you defy me and put yourself in danger and allow your mood to cloud your still-burgeoning-but-adequate-for-your-age judgement, I see red.

Oh lord, did I seriously just say “see red”? Do you see the walking platitude I have become?

I took you by the arm, pulled you against your will onto the sidewalk, and marched you home as you screamed for all the neighbors to hear.

So, you can see why I was mad at you today. You will turn four next week and honestly I kind of assumed this behavior would phase itself out by this point in your life.

But you know what you do when you assume, right?

(If you’re keeping count, that is the fourth God-awful momism I’ve dropped in the last two minutes. Perhaps I deserve the grief you give me but in my defense I wasn’t this way before you came on the scene.)

I am not going to apologize for you or try to come up with an explanation for why you do the things you do. While it’s true that you did skip your naps this weekend which would account for your behavior, you’re getting older. When you begged us to let you skip your nap on Sunday, we discussed the consequences of making that choice. We warned you that without a nap, you were prone to act up and to be crabby. You elected to skip the nap. And now you’re being punished.

I’m not going to apologize for punishing you, lecturing you, or assaulting you with one parenting cliche after another.

I’m not going to assume you don’t know what I’m talking about when I tell you about respect.

I’m not going to cave into your demands because you whined long and hard enough.

And I’m certainly not going to let you walk blindly into the road just because you’re mad.

And that’s because I love you.

I know it may be hard for you to realize at times, but I get mad at you because I adore you. Believe it or not, my life would be a lot easier and definitely less confrontational if I gave you what you wanted all the time and never dragged you home kicking and screaming. Your will is, in a lot of ways, stronger than mine; you push me to the edge in ways I would have never dreamed of pushing my own parents. But I’m still your mom, and I’m going to have to insist that my way is going to be more well-informed than yours most of the time for the next 15 or so years.

You’re going to have to learn that if you make me mad, it’s *probably* because you’ve crossed a line. But I also hope you’ll learn that I reserve my anger for things I actually give a sh*t about. You should ask Daddy; I’ve been known to get angry at him too.

Most of all, I hope you learn that everything I do for you is motivated by love. I’m doing the best I can with what I have. I’ll make mistakes and sometimes my anger will be misguided, but behind those mistakes will be my devotion to you and my desire to give you the best of me so you can grow into the best you.


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