Today I was tired and cranky. A storm hit and it rained buckets all day. I just wanted to crawl back into bed and sleep. But of course I had things to do, places to go and children to care for.
I crossed a line today. So far this year, when I've yelled, the mistake has been the volume of my voice. I'll say a child's name, or the word "no!", which is just fine to say, just not that loud. Today I said something that was both an inappropriate volume and had inappropriate content
Along with my kids, I babysat two other kids today. I took them to the library so they could play in our library's awesome playroom and read some books. After spending an hour we rushed across the parking lot in the pouring rain with me encouraging everyone to quickly get in the car. The kids ran to one side of the van while I ran to the other. I put Tabs in her carseat and looked over to make sure the kids were getting in the van. What I saw made my blood boil: Ash had gotten in the van, sat in the captain's chair, and had her legs stretched out to the back of the front seat, blocking the three other girls from getting the van. They stood outside in the rain, getting drenched.
"Ash!" I screamed. "Let them in right now. What in the world is wrong with you?! I have never seen anything so selfish. I should throw you out in the rain and make you walk home."
Yeah, I know. Horrible. She's just seven years old. In that moment she needed to be taught that her actions were unacceptable. She needed to be taught that while she thought she was being funny, what was really happening was 3 small children were stuck in the rain and cold. She wasn't thinking of others when she needed to put them first. She needed her point of view to be shifted and the consequences of her actions explained.
Instead, all that happened was that she was verbally attacked. She won't remember any valuable lesson or perspective shift. If I'm lucky, she'll remember that her mother lost her temper. If not, She'll remember that she is selfish.
As I drove home, mulling over my appalling behavior, I can see why yelling just produces more bad behavior. If she learned the lesson that she was selfish, she will start to act selfish. A terrible cycle I started.
When we got home, the girls got into an argument that resulted in Alexa letting out a shrill scream. Instead of reacting with anger, I calmly told Alexa that she could not scream inside, and to please go scream outside. She paused, and I pointed to the door. She went out the front door, screamed again, then came back inside. Three minutes later she scremaed again and I calmly repeated myself. This time she just opened the front door, leaned out, and gave a half-hearted scream before closing the door and coming back inside. She played well the rest of the day.
So on the one had, horrible fail. On the other, a small victory.