Posted by: Hannah | 06/27/2012

on parenting fails

Harry is a very sociable kid.

He’s an extrovert, as I’ve mentioned before. He’s never had trouble making friends – quite the contrary. He gets invites to birthday parties on a fairly regular basis. He seems to have all the markers of a socially well-adjusted first grader.

But he has one Very Best Friend in the Whole Wide World, and he is overly dependent on him. (Let’s call him Pete. For no reason. It’s just the first name that popped into my head).

Harry and Pete met on the first day of school, in grade primary. They’re both kind of bookish, and Pete was having a really hard time letting go of mommy that morning. Harry is a tender soul and took him under his wing a bit. They’ve been basically inseparable ever since.

Fast forward to this year. Pete has come out of his shell, which is awesome. He’s making more friends. And Harry is getting possessive, which is distinctly uncool. At least once every couple of weeks he comes home upset because “Pete isn’t my best friend anymore!!” and after some questioning, it’s because Pete is a) playing with another kid and b) doesn’t want to play with Harry. A couple of days pass, all is forgotten, and Harry comes home brimming over with stories about role-playing Angry Birds with Pete on the playground.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

This week, Harry has been quick to cry, slow to cool down, snippy, obnoxious, and generally unpleasant. This morning – the last full day of school! – he lost his temper at Ron before 7:30 because, once again, he and Pete are not Best Friends and Ron laughed at him for complaining about it.

So we had a talk. Again. About not being possessive of our friends. About making lots of different friends because each person brings something different to our lives (Pete, for example, hates all sports; Harry loves baseball). About trying to look calmly at the one thing that is bothering us rather than escalating it into something else entirely.

That last one – oy. A dramatic soul is my boy. Everything is a huge deal. When he couldn’t remember the word ‘symmetry’ from a math class last week, he immediately went to “I’m going to FAIL THE SECOND GRADE because I can’t remember ANYTHING from the first grade!” When he couldn’t figure out how to tie his new shoes so that the laces weren’t too long, it became “I GUESS I’LL SPEND THE SUMMER GOING BAREFOOT!!!!” And when he asked Pete to play yesterday and Pete said no, I’m going to play with alternate child it became “I GUESS I’LL BE ALONE FOREVER!!! AND ALSO I’M NOT GOING TO SCHOOL TODAY!!!!!”

There are so many exclamation marks littered around the house this morning that I needed a broom to clean them up.


This month has been a tough one for him. June 1st happened and the school just started phoning it in, frankly. He’s bored stiff in the classroom and not challenged enough. Then he goes out on the playground, which has three swings and a basketball court sized for adults. So he’s bored outside, too. Then he comes home to a house full of toddlers and a busy, stressed-out mama.

I’m trying to plan out age-appropriate activities for the coming summer break. I’m trying to be more patient with him. I’m trying to chant to myself that the drama is a phase, and the phase will pass.

But this morning, as I breathed a sigh of relief when the school bus doors closed behind him, I did not feel like a good parent. Not one bit.


I know that on balance I am a perfectly fine parent. It’s just today – this whole week, really – has felt like an epic fail. Baby G is going through the six-month growth spurt and is nursing every 90 minutes all night long. Ron has been cranky and out of sorts since preschool ended and today is Molly’s last day with us. And if you look at Harry sideways he loses his shit. I’m so tired and angry I can barely function, but I’m holding it together as best I can – it doesn’t feel like enough, though.Β 



  1. Love this line. “There are so many exclamation marks littered around the house this morning that I needed a broom to clean them up.”


  2. Poor kid. I remember feeling that way about my friends, too. My ONLY friend in grade 7 refused to come over to my house for, like, six months. I had to go visit her. It’s hard to feel loved, sometimes. Same friend didn’t come to my wedding. WHAT DOES THIS TELL YOU.

    If Harry were a dog I’d tell you to make sure he gets a two hour run every day teach him a new trick, and give him a good bone to chew on at night.

    Not sure how that translates to kids.

  3. The great thing about parenting is you can start over tomorrow. Some days are just like that, all exhausted and drama-filled and whatnot. Tomorrow will be better.

  4. Oh, I know those weeks…the ones that leave you wondering what on earth possessed you to have any children, ever, because clearly it’s hell for them and you.

    And then those times pass and you look back and shiver and hope they never come again.

    I know you weren’t looking for this, but you are a great mama. It never hurts to be reminded that this is true. And it is.

    Also, like Julie I loved that line. It gave me the best laugh of my day. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, ladies. By the time Harry came home from school the drama had passed and we were able to talk about the importance of making lots of friends. Turns out he’d never heard the expression “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” and that charmed him sufficiently that I’m pretty sure the message got through. And that was the last full day of school until September – he goes for an hour tomorrow morning to pick up his report card and then we’re done. Whew.

      Carol: Translates pretty well to kids, really. Every day with him is a constant effort to teach him new things and wear him out. Usually we wear out first, though. πŸ™‚

  5. I hated the end of school, we never did anything in particular and everyone got antsy and bored. Hopefully over summer he will meet new people, make lots of summer friends and go back next year with a totally new approach, and not even remember why he was so bothered this year πŸ™‚

  6. Ugh! Hang in there! Hope your day off gives you a break. I can relate to the one and only bestie – my own two kids LOVE the next door neighbor girl. Who is, to put it mildly, a spoiled brat. But according to them, she can do no wrong. I even had in her my day care for a couple of years and she was such a pain (refusing to do anything, never having suggestions, complaining to the other kids, saying untrue and unkind things about me to anyone who would listen…) that I told her parents I no longer had a spot for her. My girls were upset but today (our first day without her) has been so nice and drama free…In any event I am making every move possible to get them hooked up with some other friends ASAP. The more the merrier, I say!

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