11 January 2012

What They Live

James had an overnight business trip.  I wasn't too surprised that the kids rolled with it, and we had a GREAT evening.  Even bedtime was smooth (like buttah, even).  Overnight?  Easy as pie--Noble didn't wake up once, which is awesome for him.  I even slept through the night, which is unusual for me when my Boy is gone.  

This morning started off great...I woke up to my alarm at 5 am, a little surprised to see that I'd fallen asleep on the couch and slept through the night, but feeling good and ready for the day.  Apparently my alarm was too loud, because it woke Noble up.  He came out to the living room and crawled up onto the couch with me and we cuddled for a while.  I thought maybe he'd go back to sleep, but not so much.  5:00 is early, even for our early bird.  But, it was what it was, so I let him stay cuddled on the couch and watch TV while I went to do my quiet time and made some banana bread for breakfast.  All in all, it was an awesome morning.  Kayci woke up in a great mood, things were moving right along.  Until...
...it was time to turn off the TV and come to the table for breakfast.

And then it was 20 minutes of screaming and crying and whining and complaining.  (That was just me. You should have seen Noble!)  Kidding, I'm kidding.

But you should've seen me.  I yelled back.  I spanked.  I even threatened him with standing in a corner, which neither of my children have ever done (and excuse me, threatening?  Teacher/Parent 101--never threaten.  NEVER threaten.).  I lost my temper, and I knew I lost my temper.  It wasn't my lowest low point, unfortunately, but it made me stop and think.

So I got down on my knees and I reminded Noble that God wants us to choose to do good things.  It was all I could come up with, considering I only had a few neurons firing at that point.  He told me in that sobbing, hiccuping way of his, "but....it's....just....sooooo....hard."  It is, isn't it?  Obviously, kid, it's hard for your Mom, too.  Look at us.

Things got better after that.  Well, there was me clapping at him (seriously--clapping?) to get him to brush his teeth.  And then, raising my voice again when he was whining about his apple...which was in the bag Kayci was holding right. in. front. of. him.

Finally, we got in the car.  We weren't even late...but I realized I hadn't even brushed MY teeth.  Thank goodness I'm working at home for a while this morning!  On the way to Kayci's school, things were going well, and something she said reminded him of his grumpy so he started tuning up again...but I reminded him that we were going to focus on good things, and he was fine.  We talked through our days, everyone was happy...both kids went to school hugged and kissed and happy.

It's a short drive home from Noble's school, but I did a LOT of thinking.

Yesterday, one of the staff members at Kayci's school (who also has a son Noble's age) was in the room when Noble and I were working on a project and talking.  She said something to the effect of, "I could just listen to y'all all day long."  It was a good moment, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that 95% of the time, THAT's what the soundtrack of our life sounds like.  But I was honest with her, and I told her that she wouldn't want to listen to me much--I yell.  I shared the time last week that James came home and I was YELLING at Noble and he was SCREAMING/because he was SCREAMING like someone was pulling his fingernails out and I'd HAD IT.  (I tell my kids that some days--"I've HAD. IT."  Like that's gonna fix things.)  In trying to explain why I was yelling--"he's screaming because his sticker is tearing but his sticker is tearing because he's getting it wet and he won't stop putting water on it and tearing it more and he won't stop SCREAMING..." I was humbled.  

Really?  All my training, all of the good things God has stored in my heart and mind and yelling is the best tool I can grab?

Seriously, Kristi.

I'm too mad at myself to call me Mommygirl.  I don't deserve to be a Mommy right now, I don't think.

The amazing thing is, I still get to be a Mommy.  I get to be Kayci and Noble's Mommy.  And like my Father in Heaven, those kids give me an abundant amount of grace each day.

I screw up.

I yell.  Sometimes I open my mouth, and LOUD just comes rushing out.

MEAN might sneak out.

CONDESCENDING...pours out too often, loud or no.

Sometimes, I apologize.

Sometimes, I ask for forgiveness.

But always, always, they offer grace without even realizing it.  

And when they screw up--even if I'm mad--I do the same.  Our family does grace, even after the fact--we're working on that.

So this morning, I was driving and thinking on this, and thinking about the irony of that conversation yesterday.  I remembered another conversation I had last week with a respected friend who has a son Noble's age and a son two years older (the woman exudes confidence and grace and humor and faith, I absolutely love her!).  I mentioned my frustration with my yelling (I could sugarcoat it and say raising my voice, but I'm from Texas.  I yell.  Sometimes I holler.  It ain't pretty, either way.).  She told me that what works for her is to lower her voice, to whisper, even.

I took it in.

I was reminded of Mrs. Landry, who never raised her voice the entire 3 years I was in her class--she spoke in a quieter voice, and we stopped to listen.  

I was reminded of all of my training.

And the trainings I've WRITTEN and PRESENTED...when I offered the same suggestion.

And this morning, it all came together.

I remembered the plaque that was on my wall growing up, "Children Learn What They Live."  I am SO FRUSTRATED by Noble's yelling and screaming...but I'm freaking MODELING it in the way I am handling it.

Again, SERIOUSLY, self??

My prayer for myself is that the very next time he starts, I can get down on my knees, at his level, and whisper.  

Do you think he'll be shocked enough to quiet down?

I bet so.

Do you think my kids will both learn a lesson from my self-discipline?

I'd bank on that, too.

Children learn what they live.  They do as I do--not as I say.  

So it's up to me to do the right thing.

If you're the praying type, friend, will you please keep me in your prayers?  It's time for me to end this cycle of me yelling and getting angry at my kids being KIDS.  They're great kids, but no kid deserves to be yelled at--even the not-so-great ones.  

Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte


Heather said...

I am in tears now (which doesn't take a lot for me these days). You just described my morning, and my way of handling things lately..yelling! Alex even got spanked as we were walking out the door for school. What a great way to start a morning, huh? I really need to make a change in my parenting style. You are so right about our kids offering us unending grace. I need to do the same for them.

MommyGirl said...

Sweet friend, if I didn't know better, I'd think your middle name was GRACE. You are such a calm, loving mother...but don't we all have moments like this morning? Give yourself some grace. Technically, you're allowed another 11 months of survival mode, girl! :) But don't worry--it won't last that long!

Jessica said...

It's so hard not to "raise my voice" (don't judge me, I'm a Southern Belle) sometimes! I'm definitely going to take your words into my heart and try to remember then next time I'm frazzled!!!!