Brace yourselves. This is a doozy.
SO! Remember how I was patting myself on the back for staying calm when I’m angry with Wes, even when he’s losing his temper in epic fashion? Because THAT is the first rule of teaching your child anger management. REMAIN CALM. DO NOT YELL. And it’s REALLY hard, I discussed how it was SO HARD it was all I could focus on instead of any diffusing techniques. BUT I DID IT. AND I WAS SO PROUD. I STAYED CALM.
Well, Nikki’s only real current discipline issues is this sassy attitude she dishes out periodically. (I almost said “constantly” because some days that’s how it feels.) It is REALLY hard to stomach. It sounds TERRIBLE and it takes something so benign (like letting me know she’s in her room when I’m hollering for her) and turns it into something needing to warranting a punishment. Like…imagine the attitude someone would have to attach to their words if they yelling, “Jeezus Christ, woman! I’m in my effin’ room! Leave me the eff alone!” Take that attitude and tone you just imagined but change the script to the benign, “I’m in my room.” The attitude fills in the blanks from the first example and it makes my (and Donnie’s, it’s not just me, I promise) blood boil. BOIL. I do that think everyone’s parent has done at some time where I say, “No. No you did NOT just throw me that attitude. NO MA’AM.”
Last night she did just that and I was tired and I yelled at her. “Nikki! You can NOT throw me that kind of attitude. Do you HEAR how you sound? If you do NOT hear the attitude in the words you’re saying then we have big problems young lady. You speak to me with RESPECT. You wouldn’t talk to your teacher with that attitude!”
She cried. She apologized and we went about our night. When I was laying down with her later she said:
I hope this doesn’t make you angry…but…you know how you work so hard at being calm for Wesley? And that makes you a REALLY good Mom! I’m glad you do that! But you know how he gets so mean and angry and you stay calm? I feel like I don’t do anything near as bad but you raise your voice and yell at me all the time.
Ouch. Just let that sit there for a moment.
In that moment I was torn between running away because she was right and I was OFFICIALLY the worst Mom in the world – OR – celebrating that I raised a child who comprehends the world and her experience in such a way to notice the injustice and be brave enough to point it out. I WAS FEELING BOTH THINGS AT ONCE.
But mostly the first one.
I told her she was right and I would work on that. I explained why I did it, “I’m trying to teach Wes about anger management so I have to manage my own anger well and you don’t need that lesson.” And I promised her I would work on it.
JEEZUS, Y’all? She sure knew how to hit me RIGHT WHERE IT HURTS.
But also? That’s pretty damn amazing. It’s an amazing thing to notice, to recognize as unfair, and to confront. I’m truthfully glad she did because this can only make me a better Mom AND a better person. I’m going to continue to focus on the positive aspects of it and not the issue of how I’d been focusing my energy so much on not yelling at Wesley and never even tried to apply the same technique to his sister.
Parent, yo. It’s TOUGH. But also kind of amazing.