Well, actually, 1PM. And I’m eating cereal for lunch. Out of a Hello Kitty bowl because all of the other bowls are dirty and I don’t have time (or energy) to wash them. The kids won’t even use the Hello Kitty bowl. Of course, The Boy wouldn’t–it’s a baby bowl. And The Girl, she’d rather just yell and tell me that I don’t love her because the dishes are dirty and that now she can’t eat breakfast, and that if she becomes anorexic, it will be all my fault.
Of course it will be. If a meteor hits our house tomorrow, it would be my fault.
I think it’s reached the point the she and I cannot speak until she turns nineteen.
I really do try. I look at her and see myself although, surprisingly, my mother doesn’t think I was ever as bad as her. I think that I was as angry and frustrated, just not as verbal. There is a part of me that respects her ability to share her feelings with me, and an equally balanced part that really wants to smack her into next Tuesday. But as I’ve said before, we lost all power as parents once spanking went out of vogue.
The one thing I have discovered from dealing with The Girl, is that, while I cannot control the situation, I can control my response to the situation. I will confess–only to those who do not live in my neighborhood–I am a screamer. Everyone who lives in my neighborhood already knows that. They hear me on a regular basis. The reason there is no screamers-anonymous is because everyone hears us. There is no anonymity for a yeller.
I’m trying to quit. Like the alcoholic calls on his Higher Power, I too realize that yelling is making my life unmanageable. An alcoholic must entirely change his life, leaving behind the people who encouraged and tolerated his drinking. I cannot leave my children–they are my enablers and know how to push my buttons. As a matter of fact, I need to have them stop walking home together–I think that’s where they conspire, “Okay, Girl, you run around the house singing stupid HSM3 songs and I’ll hit you with my nerf darts. You pretend that I hurt you and start crying.”
“Should we wait until she gets a business phone call or start right away.”
“Today, let’s wait. And start pounding on The Baby’s door, too. Wake her up so she can help. And make sure you whine. I’ll mutter under my breath.”
“Hi, Mom, we’re home! The Boy hit me on the way home.”
“I couldn’t help it, she was breathing out of her mouth!”
Do you see what I mean?!
As a recovering yeller, I do fall off the wagon. A lot. Every day. But when I do remember to ACT instead of REACT, things really are different. If I allow The Girl to yell, and respond calmly and politely, explaining that her behavior is unacceptable and that I will not speak to her if she addresses me in such a manner, it usually stops her in her tracks. Walking away from her also helps. But it is SO much easier to match her yelling and raise her 30 years of experience. If I want to be brutally honest, which is more embarrassing, a 9 year old having a tantrum or a 40+ year old having a tantrum? I do give myself points for style.
I cannot control my situation, but I can control my response to a situation. If you think about it, stress is a result of our response to a situation. If I control my response, I can control my stress.
I had to eat four Hello Kitty bowls of cereal. It is a very small bowl. I better start the dishwasher so my daughter doesn’t become anorexic. At least something won’t be my fault this time…but only this time.