I grew up in a loud family….we already like to talk, and when when we got mad, we would just “communicate” at a extremely high volume and use lots of salty language. It’s one of my default modes. I’ve eliminated the extra seasoning in my diction in front of the little people, but I can still yell when frustrated. Lately, I’ve been using my “loud communicating voice” quite a bit. Recently, I started seeing it pop up in my kids when they got frustrated. I sort of panicked and told Erron, “The kids are yelling a lot, it’s probably because I’ve been yelling a lot. Shoot. I’m going to work on that.” Erron took the strategic rout of simply nodding…neither confirming, nor denying my yelling tendencies or their affect on our offspring. Smart man.
For the first few days, I was awesome. We went through the drama of the first day back to school, (we are not morning people) and I didn’t raise my voice. Shepherd cleaned his room, which always means hours of tears and desperate phrases like “I just can’t DO this! There’s TOO many! It will take FOREVER!!” and I managed to keep my zen-status. Round and round it went: Shep telling me he was basically going to die from slave labor, me reminding him that if he couldn’t care for his toys, he wouldn’t be able to keep them. It took well over an hour, but I stayed the course. No yelling. Room got clean. VICTORY.
Then last morning Shepherd would not put on his pants.
I kid you not, convincing this child to put normal street clothes on his own body is like asking him to pick up tiny legos for fun. This is a daily struggle. He’ll lay on the floor by the fire and act like he’s dying. Suddenly, he’s “too cold” to move his poor frozen little limbs and pull his pants on. It’s SO hard, and he’s freezing. Funny, because Shep can whip a Darth Vader costume on in 5 seconds. Police man outfit, or hunting camo? Easy breezy. Jeans and a shirt though—torture. Shoes and socks? Forget about it.
“Get your pants on and you’ll be warm.” I fire back at him. Tears, howling, gnashing of teeth. I realize he fully intends to keep this charade up until I help him into his clothes, which I fully refuse to do. Which means the battle is ON (again) and the clock is ticking because we have to leave for school in 12 minutes.
In sheer desperation I hiss at him that tomorrow, I will leave it alllllll up to him. After all, he’s FIVE now. When it’s time to get in the car, if all he has on is underwear, then SO BE IT. Underwear is what I’m driving him to school in. He’s not a fan of this idea and in the car he tearfully and angrily announces that he’s going to run away and find a new family.
If I’m not going to yell, I resort to sarcasm– So I respond to his 5 year old threat with, “Well, I’ll sure miss you if you go Shep. But if you run away, I HOPE YOU WEAR PANTS, because you will get COLD. Also, I hope your new mom is cool with you NEVER getting dressed by yourself.” Oh my gosh, parenting.
I drop the littles off, come home, re-heat my cup and then have a moment of defeat over my coffee. And send up a quick prayer that someday Shep will figure out how to put clothes on with out drama. I believe in miracles.
Later, I meet a friend for lunch who has a 4 year old daughter who thinks rules where made to be broken. She tells me stories about how her daughter pushes her to the brink of insanity on the daily. “I thought I was like, a parenting expert with my first one”, she jokingly confesses. “Then I had my daughter. …turns out my first one is easy. ” It makes me feel better.
So, I might have yelled, “JUST PUT ON YOUR PANTS!”, one or two times yesterday. But I suppose it could have been worse; there were a lot unfriendly words rolling around in my head I could have inserted into that sentence to made it way more exciting.
And this morning Shep got dressed in about 3 minutes, I’m saying it was because he was afraid of going to school in his undies. Winning. For now.