Have you ever been so mad that your blood starts to boil and you feel like your eyes are going to pop out of your head! Normally, I’m Miss. Cool-Calm and Collected, gentle parenting advocate, attachment parent who nurtures and explains and validates,whenever there is a problem, and yadda yadda yadda… But NOT this morning! Nope! I don’t know what it was… maybe it was the food I ate, the chai tea I drank, the weather, the planets?! Whatever it was, I really gave to Margo this morning and here’s the story…
I was really tired this morning… like REALLY unusually tired. It was the sort of tired where you almost feel sick. We were all rushing around and in a frenzy, right from the start. Art wanted to dash out of the house soon after waking, so we could get to the markets early. We got the kiddies ready, ran out the door, did the markets and then I suddenly remembered that Margo had a make up swimming lesson to go to that morning. Instead of Art taking us home, we ended up driving Art to work with all the groceries and then I was rushing home to get Margo’s swimsuit and a towel so that I could use the one car that we share. (Worst of all, I hadn’t done my daily meditation and breathing, although, that sometimes doesn’t happen right away anyway).
At the markets, one of the organic fruit and veg stalls we always go to is run by the most awesome lady, Caron. She had just been on a trip to Borneo to visit the orangutans and was doing some fundraising to help the orangutans by selling these cool orangutan backpacks. As a surprise, she gave both Goldie and Margo EACH a backpack! They are so cool and for such a good cause! But… not so cool was what happened involving one particular orangutan backpack on the way home, in-between dropping Art off at work and the house….
We were going 100km/hr on the motor way, I was alone now, just myself and the girls, and I could hear noises that meant that 9 1/2 month old Goldie was starting to fall asleep. I was glad she was finally drifting off because she had been rather grumpy that morning. But, then, 3 year old, Margo started talking to her and poking her! We have them sitting next to each, and normally there are no problems whatsoever! Margo was only trying to be nice because she heard that Goldie was starting to complain (which is what she always does just before falling asleep). I asked Margo if she could just leave Goldie alone, and normally Margo listens, but she didn’t seem to have her ears turned on today! She kept talking and poking Goldie, prolonging her awake-ness. Finally, Margo plopped one of the orangutan backpacks on Goldie’s lap. I told Margo to REMOVE the bag from Goldie’s lap. I didn’t want Goldie putting it in her mouth unsupervised because it was a really furry (think fuzzy fake hair in a baby’s mouth) and plus, I really wanted Goldie to fall asleep, NOT be distracted by a toy. But, Margo still wouldn’t listen.
Goldie started to cry and was getting annoyed with Margo… I asked Margo again… ‘Please take the backpack off of Goldie’s lap, she doesn’t want it there, and I’m afraid that she’ll be putting it in her mouth with all that fur‘. Finally, Margo got the hint and started to take the bag away, but one of the straps was stuck on Goldie’s foot. Margo kept pulling the bag and Goldie was now SCREAMING because her foot was stuck on the bag that was being pulled.
I caught a glimpse of what was happening in the rear view mirror and I immediately told Margo to stop, but again, it was like she had gum in her ears. Margo kept pulling, Goldie kept screaming and I kept telling Margo that she needed to stop because she was pulling Goldie’s leg (all the while, I was driving 100km/hr). After a while, I didn’t know what else to do, so I shouted in my deepest most scary teacher voice I have ever ever used in my whole life, ‘MARGO, STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING RIGHT NOW!!!! TAKE YOUR HAND OFF THE BAG, NOW!!! I pulled the car over on the motorway (something I would never do, but the highway wasn’t busy and there was a big shoulder), reached behind me, un-stuck Goldie’s leg, took the orangutan backpack and with some added drama, threw it on the floor, then turned back around and got back on the highway.
There was a momentary pause… even Goldie stopped crying. I looked in the rear view mirror at Margo and saw a look or horror on her face (like, OMG… I have never heard or seen anything like that in my life). The moment of silence was only a moment until they both broke out in tears. I realized that Art and I never really yell, not at each other, not at them, and certainly not at the baby and certainly not in the ‘most scary teacher yelling voice ever‘. Margo sort of freaked out and started muttering gibberish about her back pack and how she wanted it back. I was silent. She said it about twenty times repeatedly, ‘My orangutan back pack, my orangutan backpack, my ….’. I was ready to hit the roof. So, I did another thing I hardly ever do, and pulled out the big old threat and a yell to top it off, ‘Margo, if I hear another word about that backpack, WE’RE NOT GOING TO THE POOL AND WE’RE GOING STRAIGHT HOME AND WE’LL JUST SIT IN THE HOUSE AND DO NOTHING ALL DAY, AND I MEAN IT!’.
The noise stopped… Goldie calmed down… Margo stopped complaining… I felt my sanity returning. I didn’t want to yell and threaten. I don’t think that is a very effective way to raise a kid. Yelling and threatening does not promote a loving and nurturing relationship between and a carer and a child. Yelling all the time may get initial good ‘results’, but then the kid is only listening to you because they’re scared of you… hmmmm… totally not my style. BUT… I yelled and threatened today… I don’t think yelling and threatening is something that could be used consistently because the heightened drama effect would wear off. If I always yelled and always threatened, then why would it mean anything? And, besides it makes the yell-er tired and yell-ees scared. What good is that?
I did learn an important lesson today… One, that it is very important to be properly rested and to keep your energy levels up (not just by keeping them up from drinking caffeine). Two, I may use the yell and threat technique again, but it will be used very sparingly, and I’ll only have it in my back pocket for last resort purposes only.
Do you pull out the yell and threat card sparingly? Or is a standard? Or, do you somehow, skillfully never have to do it at all?!