Yesterday my over-tired 4 year old spent most of the afternoon screaming and crying. He was in a foul mood and was really hard to be around. Together my husband and I spent the long hours until bedtime tagteaming him. Trying to gently entertain him, soothe him and keep him happy. He was hard work, and we felt every second of those six hellish tantrummy hours we endured before he went to bed.
But you know what. I didn’t bitch about him to a soul. I didn’t go on Twitter and call him a dick and do the old #freetoagoodhome hashtag. There was no *sad face* Facebook status update and I didn’t Instagram him mid-meltdown. I didn’t shame him online because I have so much respect for this little human being I carried around, birthed and have lovingly nurtured up to this point.
We all use social media to vent. I know this because I vent all over it. Sometimes it feels like it would help to post a little ranty status update about the little person who loves you unconditionally and relies on you for 100% of their care and attention. I get it. I couldn’t tell you if I’ve ever publicly been a bit nasty about my own child, I might’ve been, but it seems quite unlike me. I’m not in the shame business.
Parenting is bloody hard. Bloody hard. You’re knackered. All. The. Time. You lack the freedom you had pre-children, you can’t do what you want, when you want. Money is tight, there is rainbow covered crap all over your once tastefully decorated house and you have to take a personal interest in the bowel movements of another human. It is hard and it is gross. I get it.
I won’t shame my son online.
We’ve all seen those “reasons my son is crying” memes. The ones where it says “he’s crying because I wouldn’t let him lick fire” and stuff like that. There was a counter meme which struck a chord with me. My son is crying because he’s tried. He’s crying because he’s confused by what’s going on. My son is crying because he has no frame of reference for this new experience he’s having and is clearly terrified of. Yes. Nailed it.
My child is not being difficult just to piss me off, or stop me watching my favourite TV programme. He is crying and being difficult because for him life is all new, confusing, difficult, stressful, whatever. My son doesn’t need me losing my temper with him for this. He doesn’t need me to shame him online. He needs me to understand that having a tantrum, for most of the time at the very least, is evidence of the gap between his existing skills, experience and knowledge and what is happening to him right here, right now.
What he doesn’t need is to look back when he’s old enough, scroll through my tweets or Facebook posts and see for himself how hateful I was towards him. Parenting isn’t easy, I don’t think I ever gloss over it. When I started blogging it was in a way an online diary which we could look back on as a family, or when I’m gone, warty bits and all.
It goes back to the old saying “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. Be real, be honest, be truthful, but don’t be a dick. After all, this child you’re bitching about now will be picking out your retirement home soon enough. Parenting is hard, but the actual child rearing bit is comparatively short and they’ll be off to uni before you know it. It’s hard, but temporary. So be nice.