I Yelled Today
It’s the day after the election (so technically it’s the day we found out who won the election). Anyway, we were all up late last night, kids included. Bad idea generally, but we figured, once every 4 years, they’ll stay up late with us to watch some election coverage (SO FUN), and once a year on New Year’s Eve, they might stay up later to watch some fireworks. I knew when I was passing out, way past midnight, that today would be long. We would all be a little tired and grumpy, and (depending on the outcome of the election) we grownups would also be confused and frustrated.
The thing is, the kids don’t understand an election yet. Alexander is just about 3.5 years old. He just thought it was pretty sweet that he didn’t have to go to bed at his usual time.
So this morning, the first thing I heard when my husband woke me up was, “Good morning, I gotta go to work now, and Trump won.” Immediately I hopped on my phone (a habit I’m slowly breaking – I’m trying to stay off of it the first part of the day so that I can get my head straight, get my game face on) to check Facebook. I knew there would be a lot of posts, from people on both sides of the vote. I just wanted to be in the know. I wanted to stay current.
Alexander was playing alone since Annabelle was just waking up too. I put her down to start breakfast (and simultaneously read Facebook posts). I mindlessly asked Alexander if he’d eaten anything yet (sometimes he gets up earlier, with my husband). He replied, “banana and egg” but I had already gone back to reading Facebook. I didn’t notice him. He said, “banana and egg” again, waiting for me to acknowledge it. I had tuned him out because of “more important things”. He repeated himself once more. Finally, I turned to him, but it was too late. He wasn’t getting my attention, so one way he knew how to get my attention was to knock over his sister.
A light bump sends her tipping over since she’s not got great balance, and she hits her head on the floor. Of course, this happens many times a day – most of the time, it’s an accident because she’s top heavy. But this time it wasn’t an accident. It was someone’s fault, and to be fair, it was mostly my fault. I didn’t apologize for ignoring him. Instead, I yelled. I told him to leave the area because he hurt his sister. He stepped back, a little shocked, and said, “You’re screaming”. Maybe an exaggeration, but he knows it’s not usual for me to raise my voice. So he calls me on it.
I said, “Yes I am screaming. You pushed your sister over, and that’s not okay.”
He left the area and started coloring in the play area of the living room. Of course, I knew it was partially my fault. He doesn’t want to hurt his sister. When I’m present, it almost never happens. When I’m paying attention, I can say, “Uh oh, are you about to push over Annabelle?” Sometimes he says yes! So I reply, “Ok I’m going to pick her up so she’s safe. I won’t let you knock her over.” But most of the time, he says no! I just have to give him a split second to be self aware, to realize he’s a little too close to knocking her over, and he corrects himself.
He doesn’t want to hurt her. I don’t want him to feel like he has to hurt his sister to get my attention. That’s a lose lose lose.
I went over to where he was coloring. “Hey bud, I’m sorry I yelled at you. I promise to try not to yell anymore.” And he just sort of smiles and goes back to coloring.
There’s no real danger there. He’s working on some stuff, but so am I.
I yelled today, and that’s okay. I’m not a perfect parent; no one is. I can own up to that, in front of my kids, to myself, and I try to find better ways to handle the day to day struggles. That’s all I can do. That’s all any of us can do.
The good news is that kids are incredibly gracious and forgiving. I don’t plan to take advantage of that, but I’m darn grateful I’ve got tomorrow to try to do better.