After School Restraint Collapse (Serious Parenting Advice From A Girl Who Knows)
While chatting with a friend last week, we came to discuss behaviors kids can exhibit at home. This lead to the all-too-familiar my-kid-has-it-all-together-outside-the-home-but-can-wreak-havoc-in their-habitat conversation. I believe the official term for this behavior is coined ‘After School Restraint Collapse’ but is most recognized by parents as ‘My Kid Is Acting Like An Asshole And I’ve Had Enough’ syndrome. Both titles have merit.
Afterschool Restraint Collapse is common. As a former Head of School, I’ve met with countless parents who were shocked in meetings when I sang their child’s praise. They looked on in disbelief as I described their child as a fine, upstanding community member while at home, the buggers held the family hostage. (I’m no longer an educator, so bugger works just fine!)
The scenario is maddening as all hell! At school, they stand out as a stately student—a beacon of academic adoration. If it was 1983 they’d be clapping erasers at recess, holding the door for the class, volunteering to pass out dittos. Always the first to offer help.
At home, my my. You question every parenting decision you’ve ever made! You assume you have somehow failed. They taunt the sibling, they whine and cry, they possess the qualities of Satan. (Or so you imagine.) And you think, for sure, you’re in it alone.
Let me share a little secret: you’re not alone. Yes, your child can act like a total flagrant ass—but it’s only natural and you can even relate!
Excuse me, how?
Your child is like belly fat.
Imagine if you will: a fresh start to your day. You wake up, get ready—and daaaamn you look good! You blew your hair out and so happen to put on a brand new pair of Spanx. After a battle to get them on, they wow. Subtle and slimming.
Guuuuurl, you are on track to nail the day! You head out the door and make a killer impression. You stand tall. (With Spanx you have to!) You slay the meeting, the lunch, the whatever it is that you do. The world is your oyster!
The day goes on. Boy those Spanx are tight. They are working overtime to keep you together. The afternoon rolls around and you are shuffling about. Twisting and tugging, but you know you still look good.
Lady, the day is done. I don’t know who you think you’re kidding—but you get home and YOU ARE OUT! You make your way right through that door and UNLEASH those Spanx. You have to! Physics has laws that can’t be defied.
Let. it. all. hang. out. (That’s right.)
Your child is the belly fat, and school is the Spanx— and one can only be upright and bound for so long. We all have to let it out. Better at home than in the big world.
You, as the parent, are the soft sweatpants in which he will lay.
You are the comfort, the cotton, the end of his day.
You are the place to let it all loose.
It’s not easy, I know. And over time things will change. They will grow into fine upstanding beings who can handle a much longer day– to not feel so tightly wound and bound. (I hope we can say the same for you and those Spanx.)
Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, you feel you have failed. You’re not alone. Take a deep breath. Take comfort in knowing you are theirs. You are the release for your child, who, in many ways, is so much like belly fat.
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