I saw his teary eyes and my heart broke a little. He had been very, very naughty more than once in the last thirteen minutes and I just had not been able to stay calm enough. I had been yelling at him like crazy. And it was not even the first time.
I cannot remember if my mother did that. She did when we were older, but not in a way that I can actually recall a specific situation. What I do remember is that she hardly ever said sorry. And that I thought it was incredibly unfair. When you’re wrong, you should say you’re sorry. Admit that you were wrong, even, and maybe especially to a child.
So I told my son I was sorry for yelling. We cuddled and all was well again. But it still bothered me. Not that I had to say sorry, but that I had yelled at him. I know yelling doesn’t do a thing. He doesn’t listen better for it, it doesn’t make him apologize or rethink his actions. It’s merely an expression of my own helplessness to address the situation. Me losing it basically.
Am I a bad mother for that? Probably not. As I feel it, it’s quite an everyday situation. Nothing to be proud of. Nothing to make a drama of neither. But on the other hand: it isn’t. It’s not the way I want to parent. And my heart cringes if I think how it must feel to be in his shoes at those moments. I recognize his feelings then – he gets angry, stubborn, sad… all the things I experience myself. Why on earth would I want to inflict that on my child?
Of course I wouldn’t. And later that night, when I finally had gotten him into his jammies, convinced him to get his teeth brushed and ended the day once more on a negative note, with him hiding in our room instead of going to his… I responded the way I intended to: I gave him the chance to correct his behavior and when he didn’t, he had to suffer the consequence I had warned him for: no bedtime story.
I don’t know who felt punished more (I love story time!), but it was the right thing to do. Better then yelling anyway. At first he cried bitter tears in his bed, after a cuddle and a kiss. I walked into his room again, explained once more why I would not tell him a story and promised that I would tomorrow, if his behavior was better. Lots of cuddles and sweet kisses – but no bed time story. He sniffed a little but accepted it and wished me good night. Instantly fell asleep.
I, on the other hand, will need a bit more time to do so.