The power that words can have over us is amazing. For example, yesterday my kids were in an argumentative tattling mood, trading snide remarks back and forth, until 7 year old Jessica informed me that her 8 year old brother has been telling everyone that he ‘doesn’t like me’ and ‘wants to live with dad’. Then proceeded to repeat the insult at least 10 more times. I was shocked into silence, then realized I shouldn’t be shocked. After all, he had just written a story that featured me as a fire breathing dragon.
I was very quiet for a while (pouting, yes I’ll admit it) until my two year old started rubbing my arm and generously asked if I needed to borrow her blankie again. Then I decided to act like an adult, but only after making a tearful phone call to my mother. Wow I can really be such a child sometimes.
I did some soul searching and realized that the fire breathing dragon portrayal was actually fairly accurate. In all honesty I didn’t really like living with myself either. I have been short tempered and impatient, mainly due to extra stress but children don’t understand that. So, out came the parenting books. Again.
At one point I was reading ‘siblings without rivalry’ downstairs while the 8&7 year olds were having a shouting match upstairs. Oh, the irony.
‘Never expect in the child a degree of perfection which one rarely finds even in a grown person’-Nikki Gemmell is the brilliant lady who wrote that. That really hit home at 3am as I sat wide awake analyzing where I went wrong. I have always been such a perfectionist, very hard on myself. And apparently my kids as well.
So today I made sure to keep my voice calm, and use a respectful tone. I’m making myself keep track of any times where I raise my voice. I am trying not to nag them constantly about cleaning up their messes or taking care of their dishes, etc. Also, I have been making myself say three positive comments to make up for one negative one. At first I thought I was going to have to give out I.O.U’s. for positive remarks but it definitely makes me think before I speak.
And I did notice a difference. We were all much happier and the kids got along better. Well, for the most part anyways but at least I didn’t overreact and make their arguments worse. Baby steps to overcoming perfectionism. And maybe in my son’s next story I will be featured as the beautiful princess instead of the dragon.