I believe N just wrote her first hit song this morning. We were trying in vain to get out the door on time, as usual, with me attempting to hurry things along. Typically the first dozen or so times I say “please go upstairs so we can brush your teeth,” I’m using a nice voice. Then nice turns to exasperated, and finally to yelling, “IF YOU DO NOT GO UPSTAIRS ON THE COUNT OF THREE, I AM GOING TO COME AND MAKE YOU! ONE…TWO!!…”
Today N responded with a song: “Baa-aaby, stop bein’ rough and tough with me!” It had all the hallmarks of a great pop song — a catchy melody, a dash of attitude, even dance moves. Hopefully one day the royalties will pay for her college education and/or our retirement.
Her cute little song momentarily disarmed me. But later, as we were trying to get out the door, I got angry and kind of lost it. I had been saying over and over that we need to leave — then as I’m helping her put on her mittens, N is trying to gather up her stack of valentines so she can carry them with her. She refused to put them down, so I yelled at her that she wasn’t doing good listening and we just need to get out the door.
When I write the incident, it sounds so innocent and sweet — just the kind of thing you would expect from a four-year-old on her way to preschool. If I weren’t in a hurry, I would have taken the time to patiently explain that we can’t hold the valentines when we’re trying to put on our mittens. I would have helped her set them down, then maybe helped her get a little bag to carry them in.
But I was in a hurry. We were late, and I didn’t stay calm. I got angry. I kept yelling at her even after we got in the car. I told her that when we are in a hurry, she needs to listen to me — she can’t just do whatever she wants to do. She needs to follow my instructions.
By the time we got to preschool, we had both calmed down. She had a good sendoff, which is important to me because it sets the tone for her whole day.
But I’m conflicted about what happened this morning. Part of me feels guilty for getting angry and being “rough and tough” with her. Many times, I think it’s possible to teach her the very same lesson without all the yelling.
But another part of me feels like I’m justified in getting upset. Maybe not angry, yelling upset — but isn’t it okay for parents to show SOME frustration when our kids aren’t listening to us?
I feel like we parents are given lots of advice on how to discipline our kids — mainly from books that say we’re being way too tough, or from older generations of parents who say we’re not tough enough.
I think I just have to accept that my girls are going to grow up with a mama who loves them very much, who most of the time shows it, and who some of the time is a little too “rough and tough” — and just hope that it doesn’t screw them up too much in the long run!!