I hate it when I lose my cool with my kids, especially in public. I have been a mom for 6 years now (I have 2 boys – one 6 years old and one a toddler), and I work really hard to be constructive and patient with them. I try to redirect and channel their energy. I try to reinforce positive behavior rather than always focusing on the negative. I try to talk directly but calmly and not raise my voice.
But even with the grandest of intentions, sometimes I turn into “that” mom. And it’s during those times that I am amazed at the things that come out of my mouth. Now, I don’t go off the deep end. For example, I remember how one year when I was in elementary school, my classroom had teacher’s aide who would always yell in her booming, deep voice, “If I have to come back in here, I’m going to BASH SKULLS!” I never go there. And I have really cleaned up my language since becoming a parent. But in the heat of the moment, I sometimes say things that are so cliché-parent and completely ludicrous from a child’s perspective. Let me share some of them with you.
Statement #1: “We are NOT doing this.”
I pulled this one out recently as my older son was melting down when leaving a park. He was overtired. His arms were full. We’d stayed too long. I was overtired. My arms were full. We’d stayed too long. I knew the exit would be dramatic and neither one of us would yield. So as he started to teeter on the edge, I loudly exclaimed statement #1 expecting…well…I don’t know what. Maybe I hoped that my kid would think, “Oh, we AREN’T doing this? Thank goodness. I didn’t want to go there either.” When he didn’t grasp my meaning the first time (evident by his screaming “NO MOM!”), I said statement #1 again….and then again…louder each time. People turned to watch us. Needless to say, things only escalated from there.
Statement #2: “Now you SIT here, and you THINK about what you’ve done.”
I used this old chestnut once when I was livid with my older son. I sat him down on our “time out” step, pointed a finger at him, and said statement #2 through gritted teeth, jabbing my finger forward for the words that are in all caps. And then I paused, stood up, and burst out laughing. I couldn’t believe how I sounded. Did I really just use my best crusty-old-school-mom voice and menacing finger of authority to tell my preschool son to sit and ponder the error of his ways? Sort it out on his own? Why didn’t I just send him to stand in the corner or write “I will be a good boy” ten times on a chalkboard?
My laughter prompted him to laugh, and the tension flew out of the room immediately. We were able to sit down and talk through the problem TOGETHER and moved on in minutes. And since this incident, my toddler acts as the little bird on my shoulder who reminds me to stay calm. If I send my older son to the step for a time out and raise my voice at all, my toddler runs over, babbles loudly and jabs with his pointed finger in a spot-on impersonation of me.
Statement #3: “What is it about what I am saying that you do not understand?”
This is just too wordy. I got confused typing it out. Yet I have said this to my son. And of course, he doesn’t have an answer, because I am asking (with a dash of sarcasm) for him to articulate that which he does not grasp.
So I am not always on point with my reprimands. However, I will say that I do a decent job most of the time and can come up with age appropriate sound bites that my kids do understand. It’s a work in progress, though, and I can only imagine what I will be saying when they are teenagers.
Please make me feel better by sharing your stories of “Did I really just say that?”.
This has been an original post to World Moms Blog by Tara B. of Washington (State) USA.
Photo credit is to the author.