This is an article I wrote a few years ago, and I must say it’s better than some of the ones I’ve been doing for this blog. I know I spent about 4 times more time on this, and it shows.
I’ve just had a startling revelation. I’ve discovered that my children must surely want me to yell at them. Why else would they litter their rooms with wet towels and dirty clothes, or continually bicker like WWF wrestlers? They must want to bring out the drill sergeant in me.
Picture the scene this morning. While my teenage son was making faces at his little sister, and as she fiercely retaliated by calling him deplorable names like, “you cuckoo dung bird,” I calmly asked them to please stop, which they did. However, the second I turned my back to refill my coffee mug, my daughter whined, “Mo-om (a two-syllable word), he’s making faces at me.” I’ve been keeping track, and this is the ninety-zillionth time I’ve asked my son not to pick on his sister. Before I could think of anything better to do, I screeched, “How many times do I have to tell you to leave your sister alone?” Bedlam ensued, apologies flew and peace was finally restored. For the moment.
Later I strolled down the hallway toward my bedroom. You’d think by now I’d have better sense than to glance into my daughter’s room. It’s always a mess even when it’s clean. She hoards everything, from favorite rocks (I only know of two she’s come across that weren’t special), to candy wrappers that remind her of Disneyland, to pictures yanked out of magazines and Scotch-taped randomly to the walls like paintball splatters.
But this morning. O, mercy. This morning my daughter’s room looked like thieves had ransacked it. Every drawer was open, with pants, underwear, pajamas, and tank tops trying to escape over the sides. Mismatched shoes lay like stepping stones through the rubble. I counted slowly to ten and then calmly called, “How many times do I have to tell you to put your things away?”
I’m a peaceful person. I was a hippie back when tie-dye was an art form rather than a fashion statement. And I’ve read all the books like, “How to Talk to Your Children So They Don’t Cower.” I know what I’m supposed to do, but it’s just so hard when the two of them keep repeating the same behavior that turns me from a “live and let live” kind of gal into a livid and let rip mood.
Every Sunday I go to church and pray that God will help me see the best and overlook the rest. Unfortunately, in the same prayer I usually have to ask forgiveness for bellowing such things as: “How many times have I told you not to wear your church shoes in the mud?” or “If you’d hang your coat up where it’s supposed to go, you’d be able to find it!”
I love these children dearly, but let’s face it. They do things they know they’re not supposed to do – when I’m having a pleasant dinner with my family, and my knee gets stuck to the underside of the kitchen table with Silly Putty, or when I’m scraping melted chocolate chips off the sofa cushion (“How many times have I told you not to take cookies out of the kitchen?”) – do they not realize these are yellable offenses? Don’t they have any respect for me? They say they love me, but can it really be true when there’s purple toothpaste spit all over their bathroom sink?
One of my parenting books said that when they’ve left the nest, and their rooms are perpetually clean, I’ll yearn for just one little mole hill of dirty clothes to remind me of the way things were. The books aren’t right about everything. I definitely won’t pine for the endless “Mo-om!’s” when they tattle on each other.
I sometimes worry what my children will say about me when they get together as adults. Will they laugh or cringe? I think I know what they’ll say: “Remember how the windows used to rattle when mom hollered at us?”
“Yeah, that was so FUNNY!”