Monday, November 28, 2011

Repress the Urge to Yell

Short sleeves - 65 degrees in Late Nov -  nice
When I was a kid I had a major blow out with my parents every Christmas.  I remember my cousin even asking me what my problem was.  Why did I always freak out at holidays? I believe the emotion and excitement drove me to act like a nut.  It seems, age hasn't done much to taper this tendency.  This Thanksgiving I found myself in a fight with Kaio.  Trying to remember what happened... Can't remember... it must have been really dumb.

This whole last week has been a regression for me as a mom.  I've still got a pretty long fuse, but when it reaches the end, I unleash a flurry of screams like a hyper-sonic weapon.  Day after Thanksgiving we were scheduled to go celebrate and eat at Dad's house.  Kaio refused to take a shower.  This would be the second time that he's put up such a blockade since we returned from Brazil.  Which makes me think... 'has he only taken two baths since we got back from Brazil?'  I think he's taken three but the first one did not involve a fight.  So, see, I only make him take one a week.  He should be thankful for that.  But he's not.  And really I shouldn't expect him to be thankful for anything cause kids don't realize what they're granted unless you explain.

So he refused to get in the bath.  I tried being playful, I tried reasoning on the importance of higene, I tried giving him his bathing suit to wear in the tub, I tried letting him take his time... 20 minutes later I get him in the bathroom but he's not undressing or making any advances.  I start to loose patience.
"Get in the tub Kaio, get in the bath tub."
It's full of water, Nala's been in there for 10 minutes already, it's getting cold.
This being the second time I'd had to invest 20 minutes of breath and speech persuading, I felt much less patience and much more frustration.  He hissed at me like a lion.  And I roared, "GET IN THE BATH TUB NOW!!!!"
"I'm giving you three seconds and if you are not in there, I will take off your clothes and put you in there myself!"
Second thought, taking off the clothes would be too difficult.  I grabbed him and dropped him in the tub, clothing and all.
Mari came back inside from chopping wood and took over the situation.  I could have left it at that, but felt uncontrollably compelled to storm back into the bathroom and get a few more words in:
"I'd rather have an angry kid than a stinky one!"

Later on after the kids were clean, snug and dressed, Mari came to tell me he thinks I shouldn't yell like that anymore, "It looks like you are out of control."
I was making holiday cookies in the kitchen.  I stirred the dough, and tried not to get defensive, but it came out anyway.  "This is the second time I've spent 20 minutes conversing to get him to take a bath.  I'm not taking a smelly kid to my dad's house."
Mari, "He likes taking a shower more than a bath, he left the tub and went in our room to take a shower."
Me, "That's fine, he can take a shower.  All he has to do is say he wants a shower."
We went on.  And I realized that I must have looked like a crazy woman yelling at Kaio.  If there had been a hidden video camera in the house taping us, Super Nanny would be in her funny little black car, saying something like, "It looks like this mum desperately needs my help and I'm on my way now."

Then yesterday I yelled again.  In the car, Kaio was upset because we made a trip to Target for x-mas lights and I wouldn't buy him a new lego toy.  He reluctantly placed the toy back on the shelf and as we walked out of the store the pout face turned to sniffles and then full on crying.  Trying to help alleviate his suffering, I lovingly picked him up to carry him to the car, "Sorry you're upset Kaio but you know that you'll get some toys from Santa."
Thinking about Christmas just caused the crying to surge and in the car he bucked around, not letting my mom buckle his seat belt.  I was sitting in the passenger seat and turned at him to scream.  "SIT IN YOUR SEAT RIGHT NOW!"
It worked he sat in his seat, and began to calm down.  In a few minutes he apologized and then told me to calm down.  "I'm sorry mom.  But you need to calm down.  Don't yell at me."

My mom then began her intervention, "You shouldn't yell at him like that.  What if someone saw you?  You'd be arrested for verbal abuse."
Again I went on the defense and made a case for why it's important to correct children and keep them from hurting themselves.

She conceded.
But that night I didn't feel settled.  I sat to read the yoga sutras.  The particular section discussed how we are born as divine beings in a natural state of joy, but as we grow experiences cloud our judgement and cause us to forget our divinity.  I thought of how my actions of repressing Kaio's desires and then yelling, probably left him feeling minuscule and inferior.  What if I'm stripping his joy out by habitually inflicting reality?  My yelling certainly would eat away his confidence and cause him to forget that he is a beautiful joyous being.
I remembered what a happy baby and toddler he used to be.  I'd joke that his name derived from the word 'gay.'  Nowadays materialism overshadows his happiness throughout the day.

Then I thought of a story one of my yoga teachers, author and yoga master Max Strom, had told at an ethics workshop.

I had friend who refused to try yoga.  When I asked him why, he said, "Because I used to live bellow a yoga teacher, and she would get into the wildest fights with her boyfriend.  If that is what yoga does to you, I want nothing to do with it."
As yoga teachers we need to be ambassadors of the philosophy and live respectfully and ethically.

I realized how unacceptable my yelling is.  Not that I yell often or anything, but something about the holidays triggers those extreme emotions.  I think that's why I've lost it a few times this week.

Understanding now that I need to live the example of calm and wise.  Break out of the habit of falling back on screaming.

at ZooLights DC Zoo
Kaio is five now and I'm struggling a bit with what that means.  I feel like he's too old for me to be ordering him around, but at the same time he occasionally behaves damaging on his own accord.  Like Sunday night Mari and I went to run an errand.  He stayed home with my mom.  We returned home to find that he had eaten all the holiday cookies himself, leaving none for Nala.  he'd also found the Halloween lolypops and some other candy in the pantry and had been binging.  He was totally sugar high, laughing into the air every few minutes like a clown with Tourette syndrome.

I found this pretty hilarious, but still tossed all the remaining candy in the garbage after he went to bed.

Then today I caught him snacking on chocolate chips.

I just don't know what to do.  Do I have to keep telling him, "don't do that."  Can't he self regulate now?

I don't want to be controlling him all the time, but he's not demonstrating healthy decisions.

At night he sat on the floor, building a helicopter with Mari.  So peaceful, so excited.  He'd totally forgotten about seat belt altercation of earlier.  It is as if he'd returned to his natural state of joy.  The place where kids should reside.  Where we all should reside.

This week I'm going to work on maintaining that state as much as posible.  And repressing my yelling.  Firm but loving will be my mantra.


  1. Hi Krissee,
    I loved this blog because I am tortured over my yelling breakdowns -- they don't happen often either, but they are truly bad mommie moments! I always apologize later to explain that "mommie handled that situation really poorly" and that I was just so frustrated and need them to listed to me. Great that you are so honest and self reflective about it all. Good to own our mistakes and keep trying to improve.
    Re: the candy and self regulating... in my opinion, there is no way the kids can self regulate. They just don't have that capacity and won't for a very long time. So, throwing out the candy and keeping anything you don't want him into out of reach is the best strategy. Don't have to high expectations for only a 5 year old, he seems to be a big boy, but is still a very little kid.
    Thanks for all the honesty and reflection! Helps us all to improve.
    Look forward to meeting you at SpaWorld.

  2. you shouldn't beat yourself up so much. Sometimes we yell it doesn't mean we love our children less, it doesn't mean you are verbally abusive. If our children aren't listening and we have tried to say it nicely eventually the yelling comes. Your a good mom don't let anyone make you feel that way.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...