I hate it when I lose my cool with my kids, especially in public. I have been a mom for 6 years now (I have 2 boys – one 6 years old and one a toddler), and I work really hard to be constructive and patient with them. I try to redirect and channel their energy. I try to reinforce positive behavior rather than always focusing on the negative. I try to talk directly but calmly and not raise my voice.
But even with the grandest of intentions, sometimes I turn into “that” mom. And it’s during those times that I am amazed at the things that come out of my mouth. Now, I don’t go off the deep end. For example, I remember how one year when I was in elementary school, my classroom had teacher’s aide who would always yell in her booming, deep voice, “If I have to come back in here, I’m going to BASH SKULLS!” I never go there. And I have really cleaned up my language since becoming a parent. But in the heat of the moment, I sometimes say things that are so cliché-parent and completely ludicrous from a child’s perspective. Let me share some of them with you.
Statement #1: “We are NOT doing this.”
I pulled this one out recently as my older son was melting down when leaving a park. He was overtired. His arms were full. We’d stayed too long. I was overtired. My arms were full. We’d stayed too long. I knew the exit would be dramatic and neither one of us would yield. So as he started to teeter on the edge, I loudly exclaimed statement #1 expecting…well…I don’t know what. Maybe I hoped that my kid would think, “Oh, we AREN’T doing this? Thank goodness. I didn’t want to go there either.” When he didn’t grasp my meaning the first time (evident by his screaming “NO MOM!”), I said statement #1 again….and then again…louder each time. People turned to watch us. Needless to say, things only escalated from there.
Statement #2: “Now you SIT here, and you THINK about what you’ve done.”
I used this old chestnut once when I was livid with my older son. I sat him down on our “time out” step, pointed a finger at him, and said statement #2 through gritted teeth, jabbing my finger forward for the words that are in all caps. And then I paused, stood up, and burst out laughing. I couldn’t believe how I sounded. Did I really just use my best crusty-old-school-mom voice and menacing finger of authority to tell my preschool son to sit and ponder the error of his ways? Sort it out on his own? Why didn’t I just send him to stand in the corner or write “I will be a good boy” ten times on a chalkboard?
My laughter prompted him to laugh, and the tension flew out of the room immediately. We were able to sit down and talk through the problem TOGETHER and moved on in minutes. And since this incident, my toddler acts as the little bird on my shoulder who reminds me to stay calm. If I send my older son to the step for a time out and raise my voice at all, my toddler runs over, babbles loudly and jabs with his pointed finger in a spot-on impersonation of me.
Statement #3: “What is it about what I am saying that you do not understand?”
This is just too wordy. I got confused typing it out. Yet I have said this to my son. And of course, he doesn’t have an answer, because I am asking (with a dash of sarcasm) for him to articulate that which he does not grasp.
So I am not always on point with my reprimands. However, I will say that I do a decent job most of the time and can come up with age appropriate sound bites that my kids do understand. It’s a work in progress, though, and I can only imagine what I will be saying when they are teenagers.
Please make me feel better by sharing your stories of “Did I really just say that?”.
This has been an original post to World Moms Blog by Tara B. of Washington (State) USA.
Photo credit is to the author.
Ahhh… Thank you Tara, I was delightfully reminded of myself saying in the very begining of motherhood that, ” I’ll never say/do what my mother did. That in itself was life lesson between mom and child, and about motherhood.
I was horrified the first time the very words my mother had said were being echoed from my own mouth. Did I now look like her too?
But redemption is so worth waiting for. I recall my two daughter’s saying the same thing. “I’ll never say/do that to my children.” My anticipation for the days to come was long time in coming. But once there, the grandbabies arrived and their own realizations hit I was delightfully satisfied.
Thanks for reminding me of something every mom goes through. . I am enjoying your blog.
I haven’t thought about the grandkid factor. How fun will it be to see everything play out again and again! I enjoyed your remarks, and I appreciate you reading the post. It has been such a funny journey, coming into my own as a mom. It’s nice to hear others can relate to similar things. Best to you!
I use number 1 all the time. More for me than for Squish. But I say it.
Ha! I guess I say it to myself too 😉
Taking a deep breath on this one! Morning time is the biggest sore on my side – I have the least amount of patience, a quick temper, a time limit and a little girl who has unlimited amounts of energy EXCEPT when getting ready for school. I have spewed out an occasional “are you doing this on purpose?” and “don’t walk… run to brush your teeth!” Really?!?! You must walk not run at every other point in your life unless being chased OR… dental hygiene! Do I feel ridiculous at times? Absolutely. Do I feel unreasonably mean at times? Shamefully so. Do I share these stories with my friends and find that they have similar experiences? All. the. time.
But the other day, after scolding Maile for having a messy room, she came up to me and said “Mommy, I’m having trouble with something. I’m not feeling good about you yelling at me and how it made me feel.” Nothing like a 7-year old sharing her feelings to sober up your anger. We spoke about it calmly. I let her know why I was not happy and apologized for my unnecessary response. I did feel sad that I made her feel this way, but in retrospect I also know how I feel when someone raises their voice at me so it wasn’t a surprise. But I was also proud… because it made me realize we are doing something right. We have a 3-step rule when we get mad at each other – we stop, we talk about it and then hug it out. I do this just as much for me, as I do for her. It’s my way of grabbing hold of the situation and taking a deep breath. It doesn’t always work, but parenting is a neverending work in progress… and I am happy learning from her, as she is from me. Thanks for sharing!
You know, we are all human and going to lose it from time to time. It would be unrealstic to think otherwise. I think the fact that Maile was able to come to you and talk through how she feels speaks volumes to your relationship and the tools you have given her. She has the skills to communicate how she is feeling to you and isn’t too scared to do so. That comes from you teaching her how to handle herself. Well done!
I hadn’t articulated this to myself until I read this post, but I have certainly felt it. I had always said to myself that I wouldn’t use “because I said so” with the kids, but I have found myself saying it, and realizing how silly that sounds, esp to a 6-year old. I will certainly be mote concious of it…or at least try ( in the heat of the moment, that’s all I can promise). Thanks for giving me something to think about!
I have had so many friends with kids read this post and say “I so do that too!” It just is so funny to me when I say something that I probably heard when I was little but haven’t thought about since. Does it stick there forever and get reactivated when we give birth? Perhaps. But I am trying to make sure that I am talking through problems with my kids in the hopes we all learn something from these moments, because like you wrote, I also can’t promise they won’t happen again. Thanks for your comments!
Oh honey there ain’t enough room in this comment box for all the “holy cats did that just come out of my mouth” moments…including, yes “because I said so,” and “there are starving children who would be grateful for what you’re refusing to eat.” (I remember my mother saying this to me, eons ago, and snotty eight-year-old me saying “well then mail it to bangladesh!” Lovely child, really, lovely). Best we can do? Laugh at ourselves, get our kids to laugh with us, bide our tongues, and hope for the best. Also? Carry little hard candies (I like butterscotch) to fend off the leaving the park/beach/pool/rink/field/store meltdowns (theirs and ours). Yeah, too much sugar, but too much sugar is better than being “that mom.”
Great idea with the candy! I am not above bribing with sugar in certain situations. Also, I couldn’t agree with you more about laughing at ourselves. Thanks for the positive remarks.
I am claiming amnesia, dementia and/or the fifth ammendment on this one. Have too many years under my belt of saying the most awful things. *twiddles thumbs and walks quietly away*
Ha! You made me laugh out loud. Thanks Susie 😉
I aim to please. 🙂
My shame moment is when I say no and then find myself back pedaling and doing what my daughter wanted. Did I really just do that? Makes me feel so wishy washy as a mom.
I have done that to from time to time, Beth. While I think it is important to not back pedal on important issues, there have been times in the heat of the moment where I thought, “Is this really worth the fight? On 2nd thought, is yielding on this issue ok given the mininal nature of the issue? Or do I not yield just to prove I won’t yield?” Hmmm……personally, I think there are times and places when changing your mind and explaining why is ok. Either way, I can relate 😉
Age appropriate sound bites…14 years later, and I have no idea what I am doing.
It’s tough, I think the kids play us more than we know, and we lose our cool when in all likelihood we would have “won” anyway.
Great point Salma! Yes, kids know what’s up. I find my 21 month old starting to test the boundaries more and more everyday. He knows when to be sweet and charming (like when he asks for cookies) and when to be stubborn (like when I need to change his diaper and he’s in the middle of something). Thanks for your comments!
Tara — I apologize – I missed commenting on this great article!!
I think what shocks me the most, is when the statements come back at me! That’s when I realized, “Do I really say that?”
I asked my daughter if she wanted to come grocery shopping the other day, and she replied, “I can’t. I have too much going on, mom.” I start analyzing myself through her words that are really my words that she’s picking up!