My 5 Worst Parenting Fails!

Nicole from Moments That Define Life provided this prompt for this week’s Listable Life  topic… what are your 5 worst parenting fails?

Ha ha ha…. you mean limit my list to only 5? Or how about 5 from just this week? Because not a week (maybe I should say…. not a day) goes by without me second guessing some decision I made, some consequence that I handed out…. some rule that I set. But, if I have to come up with some of my 5 biggest fails…. these are what would make my list….

Fail #1: Nearly leaving Spencer at the park one day after soccer…

Because I completely forgot that he was supposed to be with me! This goes hand-in-hand with those nightmares that I used to have when I was pregnant…. that I would place the baby in the baby carrier on top of the car and drive away (like a cup of soda) or leave the baby in the car and walk away. I shudder just remembering those nightmares.

And then one day…. I did completely forget that my son was with me. My son Jack had soccer practice and I had all 6 kids with me at the park. I took the youngest three to the playground, Jack played with his team, and the older two boys found some friends and started a pick-up game in another area of the park. Halfway through Jack’s practice, a Mom stopped by the park to pick up my oldest son to take him to his soccer practice at another field (like 4 towns away!)… I waved goodbye to Kyle and forgot all about Spencer who was still playing with other kids on another field.

When Jack’s practice was over, I loaded everyone else up in the car, and started to drive away with 4 kids. Spencer saw that I was leaving and came dashing after the car (thankfully not running through the parking lot, just along side of it). Thank goodness someone in the car spotted him and yelled “Mom- you have to stop for Spencer!” I could have died….

The funny thing, he gets in the car and apologizes for not coming when he was called. He thought that he had heard me calling, and when he didn’t come right away, that I was “pretending” to drive off to get him to come running. Um, yeah. That was it.

It took me hours to stop shaking from the possibility that I might had driven away that afternoon.

Fail #2- Taking our young children to an expensive character meal at Disney where Spencer was terrified of the characters

Kyle and Spencer were both under 2 years of age, and I had the brilliant idea of taking them to a character dinner at Chef Mickey’s at Disney when we were down there visiting family. Chip (from Chip and Dale) walked up behind Spencer and gave him a hug, and completely scared him to death. Thereafter, anytime a character even waved to us from 50 feet away, Spencer climbed on top of me and sobbed.

Fail #3- Taking our eyes off of our 3-year old for just a second at the pool

You know how they tell you that you can never stop watching your kids for even a second at the pool? Well we were sitting on the steps in my brother’s pool in Florida, and the kids were on our laps, or splashing using rings right next to us, and in just a mili-second, as we paused in conversation, Steve looked down near his feet in the pool, and there was Kyle standing on the bottom looking right up at Steve and smiling! Holy crap! Not a splash, not a call for help…. Kyle didn’t even think there was a problem…. but he was walking on the bottom of the pool, and he could NOT swim.

Steve just immediately reached down and plucked him up, and Kyle didn’t even panic. But we parents sure did. Because we were sitting right there. Right there. And we didn’t notice that he stepped off of the steps right next to us.

Fail #4- Allowing Kyle and Spencer to swim ahead in the “crazy river” at Aquatica…

So you would think that one parenting fail at a pool would be enough, right? Um,. no. A few years ago we took our family to Sea World’s water park called Aquatica, and we all decided to ride on this lazy river that is cranked up with a faster current- we call it the “Crazy River.” Since Kyle and Spencer are decent swimmers, we decided it would be okay if they went ahead of us, and I told them to get out at the same point where we entered the “crazy river” so that we could call meet up.

But as we rode in the current, I started to feel that this was a mistake. The current was really fast…. so while I Steve and I held on to our other kids (who all were wearing life vests) I kept looking ahead to find my older boys- with no luck. And when we got to the point where it was time to exit…. the current was unbelievably strong, and it was very hard to pull everyone out of the “ride”. But worst of all, when we got out- Kyle was there, but no Spencer. They had become separated and while Kyle was able to get out, he didn’t know where Spencer was.

Complete panic in my heart…. but I remained calm. I got back in the water to wait for Spencer to come around again. Steve also got in the water to go around the river again to try to find Spencer, and my brother stayed with the rest of the kids out of the water. About 20 heart-stopping minutes went by before a lifeguard walked up with my sobbing little boy…. he had gotten out at another exit point and asked the lifeguard to help him walk back to his family.

This may have been one of my worst parenting moments ever. I was so relieved to find my Spencer, and so angry at myself for allowing him to get out of my sight on a ride that I really didn’t know.

Fail #5- Steve’s first Father’s Day as a Daddy of 2…

I thought it would be a lovely idea to take my hubby and his two boys to a local animal farm and then off for a lovely lunch for Father’s Day. So all spontaneous and free-wheeling like…. I made no plans. Off we went. Well, the animal farm had like 2 cows which entertained us for maybe 5 minutes. Then as we drive around to find a place for lunch… we couldn’t find a restaurant that opened on Sunday before dinner. What? It was Father’s Day people!

So we ended up at Burger King. But once inside, I realized that my 2 year old had a leaky diaper… and the mess was everywhere… and I had forgotten to pack extra clothes. So we ate our Burger King lunch in the car…. and the cute boy above did so with no pants on! Um, Happy Father’s Day….

As I reflect on this list- most of my painting fails happened with just my oldest kids….. so maybe that means that “practice makes perfect?” Or maybe that practice means “less epic fails?”. I’m not entirely sure!

If you liked this list, check out some of my other Listable Life posts:

5 Things I Would Do if $ Was No Object

My 5 Theme Songs

5 Things That I Do Every Single Day!

My 5 Pet Peeves

5 Things That I Just Couldn’t Love Without!

5 Moments That I Would Live Over (and Over) Again!

5 Things on My Bucket List

5 Things That I Would Tell My Younger Self

10 Things I Would Rather Do Than Housework!

Okay- so please make me feel a little better and share one of your parenting fails here….. please leave a comment!

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  1. says

    Your lists are always so well done Sharon! The one about the pools made me stop breathing as I read them! Scary stuff! The character breakfast was kind of funny and a reminder as to why I have chosen to wait to take our kids on any kind of theme park trip until they are older. 🙂 Thanks for linking up! Sorry the linky went live late – I have been off my game for weeks now since that flu. I really need you to teach me some tricks of the organization trade. You are the master!
    Nicole @MTDLBlog recently posted..5 Parent Fails {Listable Life}

    • says

      As long as the offer stands for you to pay me in wine and shoes… I will definitely impart all of my organizational knowledge to you! Just don’t rely on my advice for taking kids to theme parks! And sometimes coating to 6 fails me too! 🙂

  2. says

    One time I went to school to pick up 3 of my kids. While the 3 year old and I were chatting with another mom, I forgot that I needed to pick up the Kindergartener. He was very upset with me! To this day, I remind the kids that we can’t be late for pickup because I don’t want anyone to think that I forgot about them.
    Barb @ A Life in Balance recently posted..{ project 365 } 3.26.12

    • says

      These “mistakes” stick with you, don’t they? I will never shake that feeling of nearly leaving Spencer at the park. It’s horrible!

  3. says

    Here’s mine: I was leaving for work with my 4 month old son who was buckled in his car seat. I clicked it into the base and drove off not knowing the base wasn’t secured. It was an 11 minute ride. When I arrived and opened the back door to get my son…the entire car seat was upside down! He was fine…smiling even. I, however, was horrified that I didn’t check the base and that I had no idea he was upside down for who knows how much of our commute.
    Christine@TheAums recently posted..It’s Official!

    • says

      Is it wrong to say that this gave me a huge belly laugh? Of course, while also being properly horrified about how you must have felt…. but your son must have thought that this was a baby-sized thrill ride! It’s amazing ho these stories stick with you and still makes you feel queasy even years later doesn’t it?

    • says

      I know…. it’s funny now that I can look backwards on it. But it was REALLY scary then! And totally changed my brother’s whole way of thinking about little kids around a pool. So in that sense, having it happen the way it did was a good thing….

  4. Erica Filpi says

    Lets see, when my oldest was a newborn I was so lost in the “Do I have this in the diaper bag list” that I grabbed her covered car seat, drove two blocks before I realized the seat was empty *L*.

    What is parenthood without one pool story right? The deceased husband let my son go down the VERY SHORT water slide ahead of him by three inches. He got to the end and saw my one year old looking up underwater terrified, not knowing what to do other than hold his breath *L*.

    When my husband died I forgot to feed my kids *L*. Thank the Goddess for the school who knew my plate would be full, because on the third day they brought BAGS of food out to my car). The first day a friend ordered tons of pizza, and the second day my teenagers took over the food duties when it became clear by 6:30 I wasn’t thinking of dinner. But hey, I got everyone to school, so I was partly successful *L*. It sounds horrible to laugh about, but now what else can I do? I’m not going to chastise myself, nor am I going to congratulate myself, so instead I shall laugh at myself!

    • says

      Oh Erica, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your husband- and I am glad that your community and family rallied around to help out where they could. And I am impressed with your attitude- that you can laugh at yourself and accept that you did what you could do. You are one strong Mama- and I am really glad to “know you” in the web-o-sphere.

  5. says

    Not a parent yet–hope to bring our kids home this summer–but your stories reminded me of a trip to Canada when I was about 10. My dad and his buddy were in the front seat. I was in the back, reading, all the way from Oregon, through Washington, across the border. Daddy stopped to get gas, and I hopped out to use the restroom. As I exited, I saw the car pulling away and thought, “Oh, he must have decided to go pick up those hamburgers and come back for me.” COMPETELY unconcerned, I sat down on the curb to wait for him to return.

    In the meantime, he was saying over his shoulder, “So how about some lunch, Wendy? Wendy? WENDY?” According to the friend, he pulled a u-turn on the freeway and tore back to the gas station, expecting to find me in hysterics. And has he ever taken a lot of teasing for this in the 30 years since. Forgetting your kid–bad. Forgetting your kid in a sketchy gas station–worse. Forgetting your kid in a sketchy gas station in a foreign country-absolutely horrifying. (And it doesn’t help, of course, to be the Dad, whose parenting skills are never quite considered equal to the Mom’s.) Of course, my complete calm and trust in him says a lot about how he normally did. LIke your son, it never occurred to me he could have screwed up to that magnitude.
    Wendy recently posted..Starting with Abject Fear

    • says

      Oh my Wendy- that’s that’s just the best story EVER! And I’m sure it is one that your Dad will never live down!And thanks for relating it to my confessional over nearly driving away without Spencer!

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