Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Way We Speak To Our Children

    I was out shopping today.  As I rounded the corner I saw a harassed mother pulling on her toddlers arm, yanking on it way to hard.  She was speaking to him in an angry voice telling him "This is why I don't take you out with me!"  When she met my angry gaze she looked embarrassed, as well she should.  Her tone softened when she saw that she had been caught.  Her little one might have been two, just a baby.  I then went to another store where I heard this man berating a little boy because he got the wrong grocery cart.  Did he not see the garbage in the one he had picked? "Go get another", the bully barked.  The little boy was perhaps 8, he man old enough to be a grandfather.  I just shook my head, what was this world coming to when people spoke to their children like this, and in public.  If they speak to those children like that in public, how must they treat them behind closed doors?  In public I generally sound like Mary Poppins, so sickly sweet it might make you want to barf.
    As I walked away from the Neanderthal man, I berated his ignorance in my head.  What the Hell was wrong with him to speak to that little boy like that?  Why didn't he just get off his lazy butt and get the cart himself if he had a specific shopping cart in mind?  As I was berating him, a terrible thought crossed my mind, as I was taking the moral high ground.  What if people heard the way I spoke to my big kids?  They would think I was the biggest pig!
    I work really hard to give my children the best childhood that I can give them.  I am very involved in their lives.  I know their favourite colours, foods, best friends.  I make sure that special occasions are well, special.  I am the mom who goes on class trips, bakes fancy cakes for their classes.  I really do work hard, but then that angry witch comes out.  I think about the episodes of Dr. Phil where he has hidden cameras in bad parents homes.  I would die if anyone ever heard the way I speak to the big kids.  I don't always speak to them terribly, but it just takes once to effect their sense of self.  The ironic thing is that it's the days that I am working my hardest to make everything so super special for them, that I have the least patience and am the most obnoxious to them.
    I would never speak to Elly in the angry tones that I use on the big kids.  It seems like child abuse to speak to her like that, she's just a baby.  What makes it wrong to speak to Elly like that, but not the big kids?  I remember hearing a parenting program on t.v..  They were talking about dealing with pre-teens and teens.  They were discussing the way we speak to toddlers vs the way we speak to our teens.  We would never use angry tones with toddlers, and yet we allow our frustrations to be taken out on the teens.   The parenting "expert" then suggested that when your teen is driving you to the point of loosing your cool, think about them the way they were as toddlers.  That really struck a nerve with me, even at the time, now to just put it into place.
    I really like the moral high ground.  I like to look with distain on others, and forget about the exact same things that I do.  It really stinks when I realize the facts.  I prefer the fantasy land that I try to live in.  You know, where I am this amazing mom, who can do no wrong?  It's hard to think about the way that I am speaking when I'm angry.  It's easier to just flare up at the kids, than to take a step back and think before I speak.  I need to be that Mom I was after I had my surgery, that Mom who spoke in a calm and loving tone.
    Here is the end of my story.  After I had my horrid epiphany, I went into the fresh produce isle.  In the produce isle was this mother bent over cuddling her preschooler.  She used a beautiful voice to speak to him.  As she spoke to him her eyes also spoke their love for that little boy.  Watching her interact with that little boy was beautiful.  I had that soft and fuzzy feeling.  I realized that I am also that Mom.  I am the soft place to fall.  I just need to balance that ying, and that yang.

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