Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Day of Yelling

I don't yell as a rule.  I hate yelling.  I judge people who yell.  And yet, there I was, standing in my sons' doorway, yelling.  "GET BACK IN YOUR BED!  I have had ENOUGH!  I don't want to hear a sound out of either of you!"  The boys looked back at me with wide eyes.  My three year old was the first to break.  "Mama!  Why are you being so mean to us?" he asked as tears welled up in his eyes.  "Because you aren't listening and I'm at the end of my rope.  Good night."

I walked down the stairs feeling a mix of satisfaction (I finally said what I was thinking and let them know I was the boss!) and guilt (I can't believe I made them cry!).  I was too busy to dwell on it right then so I put myself to work on my three year old's Halloween costume.  As I hand stitched the perimeter of his "spooky moon," I let myself start evaluating the chain of events.

They had been difficult all day.  Every "no" was questioned or ignored.  Every request fell on deaf ears.  Every game they invented involved screaming and throwing.   When nap/rest time finally was upon us, I silently celebrated.  Finally, a moment of respite.  I tucked them in with instructions to stay in their room for a minimum of an hour.  Within moments, I heard them wrestling and laughing.  I trudged upstairs, repeated my instructions to stay in their beds and then went back downstairs.  This sequence repeated itself four times until, finally, my three year old stood in front of his sleeping baby sister's room yelling, "Mama!! I'm not really tired!!"  Right on cue, the baby started crying and I did too.  I Just.  Needed. Five. Minutes.  I stomped up the stairs and proceeded to yell.

We've all lost it at one point or another.  This job is frustrating and it's hard.  But what had I taught my children?  That you have to be a 500 pound gorilla to win and get what you want?  That dominance, not mutual respect, is the key?  I asked my very bright five year old what he thought when he came out of quiet time.

"I didn't like it at all.  You could have just talked to us nicely."
"I know, babe.  I was frustrated.  Do you ever get frustrated?" I asked.
"Yeah but you put me in time out when I yell like that."
"Yes, I do.  And I put myself in time out for this one.  Do you understand why I was frustrated with you?"
"Because we didn't listen."
"Right.  Can you work on listening and I'll work on yelling?"
"Okay.  Don't yell anymore, okay Mommy?"
"You got it, bud."

To my three year old, I kept it a little simpler.
"I'm so sorry I yelled and scared you before your nap, my love."
His eyes widened as he looked at me tenderly.  "Oh Mama, that so nice.  I love you."

We all screw up with our kids.  We all have moments that will come up when they are in therapy someday.  But if we can admit our faults, our regrets and our mistakes, they will be more apt to share theirs with us.  We can't be perfect and neither can they.  But if we can model God's forgiveness and transparency, we just might help them understand the meaning of unconditional love.

Is there anything that you have messed up on this week?  Try talking to your kids about it and asking their take on it.  You may be surprised at their perspective and their willingness to forgive.

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