A few years back, when the game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” was popular, they introduced the concept of “Phone a Friend.” A contestant who was unsure of the answer to one of the questions could call a “Friend” as a lifeline, and hopefully that smarty-pants knew the answer to the question. Luckily, we don’t have to be on a game show sweating a million dollars in front of millions of viewers to employ this tactic.
It only took about 15 minutes of my three-year-old’s rage to realize I’d crossed into new territory and was totally lost. “Boo” was throwing and epic fit. It started when she didn’t want to put on her jacket after preschool so we went out into the frosty evening… and she wanted her jacket on. I got her jacket on and Boo safely buckled into the car seat and she didn’t want her jacket on any more. And she didn’t want to go home. During the 1.5-mile drive home she took her shoe off and threw it at me, hitting me in the shoulder. When I informed Boo that she’d be serving a time out for that offense she started screaming and things devolved from there.
Fast forward 15 minutes and she’s on another time out (for having hit me), behind the closed door of her room, raging like a caged bull and screaming like a wild hyena. It dawned on me that I had no idea what to do or how to break through her rage. I was out of tools. I didn’t want to spank her (I’m firmly in the anti-spanking camp) but was honestly considering a swat on the bottom to try and change the script.
Frantically trying to consider additional options, I performed my own “Phone a Friend,” and thank goodness for friends who have walked the path before! I picked up my phone in the kitchen while Boo continued to kick, scream and throw things in her room. Chelsey picked up the phone and I blurted, “I need help. I don’t want to spank my kid but I don’t know what to do.”
Chelsey and I have been friends for 20 years, ever since I moved from Wisconsin to the Twin Cities suburban neighborhood where she lived (I still remember out first conversation on the school bus, but that’s a different story). Now she’s a health care industry executive and a mother of three kids, two of whom have already passed the “terrible threes.” I knew she had been down this path before, I continue to respect her parenting style, and I knew she knew more than I did.
Indeed, she had tips. Tips that gave me tools and kept me from swatting my kid. Can I tell you how wonderful it is to have a friend who doesn’t judge you for wanting to spank your kid? And who is wiling to talk you through an ugly parenting situation?
Later, with Boo calming and eventually returning to her usual pleasant and communicative disposition, Chelsey and I traded some texts:
Chelsey: Hope things have simmered down there. You’re a good mama, mama!
Me: Thank you so much for your help! I really didn’t know what to do!
Chelsey: What, they didn’t give you that pamphlet at the hospital? J
Though extreme this was a good reminder of “Phone a Friend” and how valuable it can be. I remember Christy (of Pink Tambourine Club) calling me for some first-aid advice when she had a run in with a kitchen knife. I’ve called my artist friend with questions about crafting materials and my uber-smart friend Greg who talked me through changing the hard drive on my Mac.
How have you used “Phone a Friend” to help you? Or how have you helped a friend?