I used to talk a lot about my oldest child’s behavior problems, but if you are a long time reader, you have probably noticed that has tapered off some. I still have stories I could share DAILY, but instead of focusing on what my kid is doing that seems sociopathic, I am really trying to focus on the things he’s doing well. Positive parenting and all that. Plus, by the end of the day, I’m just glad it’s over. No need to rehash. I made it, we’re safe. The end. Well done.
Maverick is an amazing kid, but he has issues with anger and is very (VERY) oppositional by nature. He is a brilliant, demanding, complicated child and he gets every single difficult characteristic from his father … obviously.
Some issues have calmed with age and maturity, but other things seem to be running deeper and becoming more serious. After a few recent events, I realized that we need to make some changes to our parenting style. Things that used to work for us are no longer working, and over time Robbie and I have become … cringe … yellers.
Just admitting that makes me uncomfortable. We were not yellers in the beginning, neither of us came from yelling households, and now we are yellers. There are a million excuses and reasons I could give for why that is, but it doesn’t matter because we are the parents and we set the tone. I don’t want to live in a yelling household, and yet we do. That’s not the tone I want to set.
In the worst moments of my day, generally between 4-6:30 p.m., I have an out-of-body experience where I hear myself screaming at my children like a maniac because no one’s listening and everyone’s throwing food on the floor and acting like hoodlums from SOMEONE ELSE’S HOUSE, CERTAINLY NOT MINE, BECAUSE WHAT KIND OF MOTHER HAS CHILDREN WHO ACT THIS WAY?! The mom I saw, I didn’t like. I didn’t even recognize her. I thought she was better than that. She used to be, when she had one kid. But then she had two and then three and she felt ill-equipped to handle her oldest, complicated child because her life was overwhelming. Sometimes when you’re overwhelmed it’s hard to gain clarity to see how things really are.
Robbie started yelling more when he was home. And then we saw our kids start to model that behavior. Yesterday I had flash-forward of Maverick at 14, towering over me and screaming “You’re an idiot!” refusing to comply with anything I asked of him, and that was it. I was done. No more yelling, and Robbie agreed.
That was last night. This morning, Asher woke up first. He had pooped his pants. I changed him and put the dirty diaper in a shopping bag, tossing it out on the carport to put in the big garbage can later. Robbie woke up with the stomach bug that is traveling from member to member of our household. He dragged himself around, getting ready for work; he was going anyway, even though he felt terrible. So for all the people who are buying a Kia today — stock up on charcoal tablets. You’re going to need them. Wash your hands if you shake hands with Robbie Hobbs.
We reminded each other over breakfast that we were no longer going to yell at the kids. This was going to be The Day We Stopped Yelling.
Maverick wouldn’t stop picking on Asher. Asher wouldn’t stop screaming like he was being skinned alive. The baby wouldn’t let me put her down. Robbie kept having to run to the bathroom. The chaos escalated. The tension level rose. We took deep breaths. Asher tried to drill the baby with his toy drill. He hit her with a metal toy. We breathed more deeply. We told Maverick he had to run laps in the yard. He crossed his arms and said “I will NOT.”
I took a deep, deep breath, holding the baby while Asher clung to my leg. I would not yell. I would be calm. I can’t do this, I thought.
And that is when I saw it.
The next door neighbors are doing construction on their house which has prevented Asher from napping for two full weeks. I haven’t mentioned it here, but their damn dog keeps getting out. He’s a friendly dog, and harmless I guess, but he’s huge and hyper and scares the kids because he jumps on them. Last time he got out, I marched next door and asked the construction worker to make sure they don’t let him out because I have little kids and we like to be outside.
Well, this morning I looked out my kitchen window to see that very same dog eating Asher’s poop diaper and strewing it all over our front yard.
And I yelled.
But not at my kids. So does it count? I don’t know.
Here’s what I do know: since this morning, Maverick has acted like a lunatic several times. Normally I would have yelled at him, but because today is The Day We Stopped Yelling, I stopped what I was doing, got down on my knees and looked in his eyes. I took his hands in my hands and quietly asked him to stop doing whatever it was that he was doing, and it worked. Now, do I have time to stop what I’m doing to calmly ask something of my children? No. I also don’t really have time to pee or feed anyone, but it has to be done anyway.
Not yelling is exhausting. But the alternative is unacceptable. Do you yell? Did your parents yell? HELP ME! (I yelled that at you.)