We all know that parenting is hard. These little people we love with our whole hearts challenge us in every way, but usually, at the end of the day we can sit back and be proud of our efforts. December 16, 2015 was not one of those days.
It started out innocently enough. The kids had "pajama" day at school. I'd happened to find what I thought at the time were the most adorable matching elf pjs in all the world- you probably saw them too- at Target. Glorious green striped get-ups for the whole family-even the dog. Unfortunately, I never found any for Parke and me, but I digress.
Anyway, pajama day was a hit and when I picked up my little elves that afternoon they were still adorable, albeit slightly bedraggled. Our good friends and neighbors asked if we would like to stroll to the park and the kids were ecstatic. The older of their two boys is Gracie's best boy friend and she ADORES him, so she was thrilled to have the chance to spend time with him. When she asked if she and Sam could wear their pajamas I thought, why not?
Here is where I will say- I love where we live. Love, love love it. But. Sometimes, it can be a little judgey. As in, "wear your Lululemon and your kids best be in smocked clothing and a bow at the park" judgey. But on this day I decided I just didn't care. I didn't care what other mothers thought because I was going to let my kids be kids and I would show them all what a "fun mom" looked like. Ha. Hahahahaha.
So we get to the park and while I saw a few sideways glances at my elfin lot for the most part we are having a good old time. My friend and I were chatting while simultaneously pushing the older kids and trying to keep the younger kids from eating dirt, par for the park course. I'm not sure what even happened next, some sort of scuffle over a ball I think?, but before I knew it the older two were in a full on knock-down-drag-out. Again, par for the course with three-year-olds.
My friend separated the two and took away the toy, took her child aside for the usual "talking to" and I started to do the same.
Before I tell you what happened next, friends, I want you to remember both of my children are in little green elf pajamas.
So, for some unknown reason, Gracie decided instead of being punished on that day, she was simply going to run from me. Repeatedly. I tried calmly saying her name. I tried smiling serenely while walking after her. I tried using all three of her names in a very stern voice. It wasn't until she took off toward the road that all semblance of a controlled mother fell away and I raced (with a jostling jolly Sammy on my hip) and full on tackled her by the little park bathroom.
"OUCHIEEEEEEEE!!!!!" Her shrieks could be heard ten miles away, at least. "YOU ARE HURTING ME!!!!!!!!!!"
In an even more unfortunate turn of events, every mother there that day had only one child under the age of 18 months. And I'm sorry, if you have one child under the age of 18 months, even if you know better and know that your time will likely come, you secretly judge mothers with misbehaving children. I mean, you will one day have a child who will melt down in Old Navy. You will. But for now, you are smug in your child's perfection.
"Listen", I hissed, "if you do not straighten up right. this. second. we are leaving this park."
At which point she took off again- thankfully toward the stroller this time.
So that is how I found myself wrestling a screaming and writhing elf and her now not-so-jolly brother into a stroller and attempting to walk/run the mile home.
To (sort of) quote Will Ferrell, she was an angry elf. She was completely beside herself. I had once hand on her the whole way home while she fought me, screaming at top decibel. I watched each passersby either pretend not to notice or stop to enjoy the show. Poor Sam just looked up every once in a while and made little sounds of distress.
Sweating profusely and words I'd forgotten I knew streaming through my head, a little thought bubbled through that almost sent me into hysterical laughter..."For this child I prayed".
I remember talking to someone before I had kids, and telling them I was worried I wouldn't be a good mom. It was an older, more seasoned mother- and she told me the most important thing you can do is love your child.
Now, had I known at the time that love could look like dragging a tiny demonic elf home from the playground, I might have thought twice. But I wouldn't have. I remember so vividly getting on my knees and praying for a child, telling God I would gladly take the good with the bad just as long as I had a child in my arms.
And now I had two. I would be lying if I said I was thankful right that very moment. But later I did have to laugh. I would pay good money for a video of the whole thing.
Once we finally got home, the now filthy and cried out elf was sent straight to her room while the pudgy confused elf was given cuddles for his trauma.
About ten minutes later I heard a soft, "Mama" behind me. It was the gremlin herself. "I am berry sorry I was bad at the park."
We talked for a while and agreed that sort of behavior was unacceptable and never to be repeated. After a while she shuffled away so I could start dinner, but turned back.
"Mama, can we play after school tomorrow?"
"But not at the park?"
"Not tomorrow, no"
"And not in my elf outfit."
"No. Not in your elf outfit."
That elf is going to be staying on the shelf. Forever.