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Supporting the Mom With Unruly Kids

Photograph by Getty Images

My brilliant idea for surviving the grim Chicago winter was to sign my kids up for tons of classes. And as a bonus, lots of the classes were for children ages 3 to 5 so my kids could enroll in classes together.

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The only flaw in my plan is that my kids seem to act out when they are in class together. When they took classes separately, I dealt with plenty of shenanigans, but they were of the I-just-want-to-sit-in-mommy’s-lap variety. Sure, my kids had individually refused to get into pools or sashay across the room, but I’d never seen them proactively misbehaving and disrupting a class.

Then we started our indoor golf lessons. The first class offered foreshadowing of what was to come. My kids laughed and goofed off, and often veered off into their own little world. By week three, they were full-on ignoring the teacher so they could smack each other with golf clubs. Within the first 15 minutes, I developed a migraine from the internal debate about whether I should step in or let the teacher discipline them.

When my daughter refused to move out of my son’s way so he could swing his club, I could no longer sit idly by. Their antics were holding up the class and keeping the other kids from getting a turn. Mortified, I pulled both my kids aside and explained that if they continued to be disrespectful to the teacher and the other golfers, we would all sit on the sidelines for the rest of the class. They somehow kept it together for the rest of the session.

I lingered in the gym for a few extra minutes, hoping I wouldn’t have to face the other parents.

I, on the other hand, was in a shame spiral. I was sure the other parents were furious at me for letting my unruly pair dominate the class. I kept my head down and refused to meet anyone’s eyes. If I were one of the other parents, I am fairly certain I’d be giving me the stink eye for having such out-of-control children. I sat in the back of the gym, one eye on my kids and the other on the texts I was sending to my husband: Your children are acting like maniacs during golf lessons. HELP!

When the class was over, I told my children that we were going to work on listening and following directions. I apologized to the coach for my kids’ behavior. I lingered in the gym for a few extra minutes, hoping I wouldn’t have to face the other parents who might shun me for being that mom, the one who can’t control her kids.

On the way out the door, we ran right into one of the other mothers. Our eyes met and I tried to beam an apology to her without using any words.

“They’re so cute together,” she said, nodding toward my children.

Dumbstruck, I could only utter, “What?”

“Your kids—it’s so cute how they play together.”

“Thank you,” I said. “Sorry for all the disruptions during class.”

She looked at me with the kindest smile and shrugged her shoulders. “It’s no big deal. Everyone was having fun.”

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It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. She genuinely seemed unfazed by my kids’ behavior. Or, maybe she was fazed, but she could tell I was beating myself up and offered to help me get off the cross I was crucifying myself on.

Next time I see her I’m going to thank her for the gift she gave me—helping me lighten up and use my energy to work with my kids instead of beating myself up. And I’ll think twice before giving some parent the stink-eye when it’s their kid acting up.

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