Friday, August 28, 2015

Hearing Myself

I gave my six year old an old digital camera because loves to document his creations. He builds massive structures out of pipe cleaners, old boxes and milk jugs and it was an easy way to convince him that we can't keep every last one of them. "Let's take a picture! Then you will have it forever!" Win Win, right? Never did I imagine that this camera would also capture me during a really bad parenting moment.

My four year old had just gotten new baseball bases from his aunt and he was very excited to play a game of "real baseball". We gathered up all of our supplies and drinks and headed outside. We set up the bases on the driveway and the fighting started. "NOOOOO! That base doesn't go there! MOMMY! Why did you put that base so far away?!" my oldest howled. "DREW! That was a terrible pitch! How am I supposed to hit that?!"
Meanwhile, my little girl was sampling each of her brothers' drinks trying to decide if they had something better than she had been given. "NO RO RO!" My four year old yelled as he wrenched the cup out of her hand. That MINE!" Rosie screamed as if her fingers had been ripped off then fell into a puddle of tears. Unphased, the boys went back to their game. 

"Mommy, would you pitch for us because you can do it better," my oldest yelled over his sister's tears.
"Just a minute, honey. Let me help Rosie settle down."

I picked up the ball and walked over to pitch but my son didn't have a bat. "Where's your bat, bud? I said, trying to stay patient.

"Drew won't give it to me!! He said it's HIS bat and I can't have it!!" At that, he rushed his little brother to try and rip it out of his hands. 

"Hands up!" I said firmly. This is my move to stop them mid-brawl and sometimes it actually works. I saw my daughters hands shoot up out of the corner of my eye and realized she had been elbow deep in mud. I took a deep breath and walked over to the boys. "Enough. Got it? I expect kindness. I expect sharing. One more fight and we're done with this game." They nodded with round serious eyes.

The rest was kind of a blur until I heard my voice being replayed through my son's digital camera. "I'm going to lose it! You guys are making me crazy. Luke! You can't throw that bat! Rosie, please please please stay out of that mud." It went on like that for some time - I heard myself nagging and complaining and constantly correcting. I was the one who wasn't using kindness. I was the one who ruined the fun. Was their behavior frustrating? Absolutely. But I am the one setting the example. If it was too much, I could have marched everybody inside for a popscicle to reset. Maybe, just maybe, their behavior was bad because I wasn't in a great place.

It is so difficult to maintain our composure when our kids are fighting and having meltdowns simultaneously. But it is our job to meet them where they are and help them through those rough patches, not the other way around. God is patient with us when we kick and scream and cry about life being unfair. Aren't we asked to do the same? 

This week, challenge yourself to imagine your words being recorded. If you heard your words played back, would you be proud?

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