Another Close Call

Sometimes, when children act out, we parents lash out at them instead of comprehending or responding to their pain.

Dear Kristen,

Sometimes, we parents lash out at our children's undesirable behavior without looking beneath the surface, failing from to respond to the pain of a child.Today was your last day of nursery school. I've attempted for days to prepare you for this milestone. To my surprise, when I picked you up, you seemed completely indifferent. You cheerfully said goodbye to all your friends and teachers. You danced around the room while I gathered up your keepsakes. You skipped to the car without so much as a backward glance. "Wow, that was easy," I said to myself, breathing a sigh of relief. Off we go to run errands.

We are driving along, and you insist that I stop for a slushy. I say no. You start to whine and plead and will not stop. I ignore your protests. You then embarrass me more than usual in the supermarket. I am growing increasingly more frustrated with you. Back in the car, you yell at me, you talk back, and you whine some more. Even when you're being a brat - you're never this bratty. And then you get worse. Finally, my patience has reached its limit. I stop the car in front of the post office, yank you out, and get ready to pounce! You are in BIG trouble now KID!!!

Suddenly it hits me. My temperature immediately starts to cool, and I look down into your anxious little face. "Krissie," I ask, forcing my voice to sound calm. "Are you sad or hurt about anything, honey?" Your whole body begins to tremble and you croak, "I don't want to go to kindergarten! My friends at nursery school -need - me - Mommy!" You begin to sob, making heart-wrenching, hiccupping sounds. I sit down on the sidewalk and gently guide you down with me to nest in my arms. And I sit on the side of the road on a busy Lewiston street, cradling my little bird. We're oblivious to the traffic. We've more important things to tend to right now- you, your grief, and I, my child.

You're sleeping now, snuggled up to your teddy bear, serenaded by lullabies, a sippy cup of apple juice beside the bed. We had another close call, you and I.

Strange how we expect adults to be mature, to express their feelings appropriately, to not take it out on others when they've had a bad day. But grownups still fail to meet our expectations every now and then, no matter how old or how wise. And yet, we so readily lash out at our children's undesirable behavior without taking the time to peer beneath the surface, failing from time to time to respond to the pain of a child...

Love, Mom...

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2009, January 4). Another Close Call, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Last Updated: July 18, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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