Can a day go by without some measure of mental flogging on my part because of some parenting mistake I've made? I know there is no such thing as a perfect parent (there had better not be). But here's the horrible thing I did:
We had discounted tickets to go to Lagoon, so we went with the Fam. Penny would have been pleased as punch to ride the carousel a million times, and I should have just left her alone. But her cousin (the daredevil) was having a blast on the other rides, so I thought maybe Penny should branch out a bit.
First, we tried the boats. We really talked them up and said she could ride with her cousin. That got her excited, because she loves to do whatever Isabelle does. The boats are connected in a circle, floating on a small amount of water, and they have little bells for the kids to ding and steering wheels to steer while they go in their happy little circle. Fun, right? Penny barely tolerated it. She looked worried the whole time, as though thinking, "You can drown in two inches of water..." But she didn't cry! Hooray, we thought. Let's try another one!
Aboard the ill-fated "Goldfish."
Next came the cars, which seemed innocuous enough. The cars go on a little track, with no real steering involved. The only drawback is parents can't ride with their kids. So we watched Penny's cousin and her little friend go first, and they had a grand old time. Then we stood in line and watched child after child get in, take off, and come back around the track. Penny said she wanted to do it. I explained I couldn't go with her, but look how much fun it is! Whee! Then it was her turn, and the ride operator helped her get in. She panicked as the car jumped to life, ambling along the track. But she was already on her way, her cries of protest fading away from me.
Britt was on the other end of the track, waiting for her to appear. He reports that she seemed ok coming around the bend, but that as soon as she saw him, she lost it. And that's when I realized that we are really big jerks.
She made it back to me, escaped the clutches of the horrible car, and we cheered and applauded, and told her she was very brave. And yet it wasn't the end of our ruthless "this is good for you!" experiment.
It started to get hot, so we decided to cool off by going on one of the water rides. We thought, it will be like splashing in the kiddie pool! She'll love it! We can all ride together! But we neglected to consider that there wouldn't be enough weight in the boat to steer away from the waterfalls.
Have I mentioned that Penny hates to get splashed? I mean, no one loves a big splash in the face (except Penny's cousin), but Penny finds it particularly offensive. So of course, with each bump and spray and oops! and wow, that's a really big waterfall coming up, was cause for alarm. Isabelle laughed and screamed and giggled. And Penny sobbed. When it was clear we couldn't steer away from the waterfall, I threw myself on top of her in a foolish attempt to keep her dry. Did I mention the water was cold?
We've never gotten that drenched before. Britt and I were soaked to the bone. Our pants and shoes were sopping. Afterward, I realized I had only packed an extra shirt for Penny, not pants. Yep, Mom of the Year, right here. I forced my kid to endure cold splashing water and didn't even bring a dry outfit.
So, to make it up to her, we hit the carousel for the rest of the day. Later that night, she refused to go to sleep, even though she was utterly exhausted. I think she had some lingering separation anxiety from that horrible car incident.
All better, now.
Penny can recap the experience in her own words: "I like merry-go-round. I don't like the cars. I don't like that WATER." And each time she says that, I feel worse. I wonder if my attempts at forcing bravery will backfire completely. Have I lost her trust? Will she be willing to try it again in another year? Or will she go running for the hills? And is it wrong that a teeny part of me thinks the whole thing was just a little bit funny? God, I'm a jerk.
More Parenting Fails can be found on a recent post at Flotsam. Reading the comments made me feel slightly better.