Wednesday, January 8, 2014

restarting the clock.


I know everyone slips up, but I feel like a failure... again.  I made it exactly a month without yelling and it felt great.  Now I remember why I wanted to stop - this is a sad, pathetic feeling.  So by January 7, I'd already messed up on my most important resolution.

I'm certainly not trying to justify it, but I want to remember it.  I want to remember the way I felt afterwards for inspiration to do better next time. It was our fourth day of being snowed in, which in itself was not a bad thing. We've had plenty of toys and games and movies to keep busy.  Plenty of food eat and no reason to brave the scary roads or arctic temps.

Things took a turn for the worse yesterday when the boys refused to take a nap. They just played and goofed off in their room for 2 hours. By that point it was already almost 3pm so I wanted to keep them up for a decent bedtime since it's back to real life today. By 5:30, Dexter was asking for warm milk (which means he thinks it's bedtime). He was falling apart at the seams. Theo was fine until we turned his movie off and transitioned to the library for story time.  He chose a huge Marvel encyclopedia and had Ryan talking to him about different characters for 10 minutes while I read two books to Dex.  By the time we finished up, Theo had decided the Marvel book was "boring" and wanted to choose two new books.

Uh uh.


We told him he could choose one other book, but that he'd made his first choice and was not bored with it for 10 minutes so that counted as one of his picks.  He started crying immediately, whining that he didn't like it and that it was boring. We said ONE BOOK. He said two. One. TWO! And so on.  Finally it turned into us saying zero books, at which point he really lost it.  We ushered him towards his bedroom and bathroom to start brushing teeth, etc. and he ran into his room and started hitting a canvas picture on his wall. I raised my voice and said "Stop!" out of caution and alarm but he continued. The picture fell off of the wall and hit him on top of his head (don't freak out, it weighs a few ounces). It startled him but didn't hurt him.  I grabbed it as it was falling and put it back up on the wall.  I picked Theo up by his armpits and carried him down the hall to the chair in the corner. Sternly but calmly, I said "Time out for hitting your picture!" and sat him in the chair. I turned my back to set the timer and before I could turn back around, I heard things falling over the sound of his screaming. He was standing on the chair, pulling papers and pins off of the bulletin board.

That was it. I don't know why that set me off. I don't know why that put me over the edge. I don't know why I snapped. But I did.

I'm not even 100% sure what I said. All I know was that I was in his face, shouting, and I couldn't stop myself. I didn't even think about not yelling or try to prevent it.  I'm sure there are a million things I could have done differently, like just let him have the dumb 2nd book from the get-go.  But that's what I did.  I got in my little boy's face and yelled at him. Because I'm bigger than he is. Because he made me mad. Because I can't manage my own emotions when I'm tired... yet I expected him to.

Fail, fail, fail, fail.

Normally when he's in time out, we will start the timer and walk away so we are not giving him attention, but I knew I couldn't trust him.  I stood and watched him (towering over him of course -- why, why, why didn't I just sit down?). He cried. He begged for 1 story. He said he was so sorry.  He begged me, "talk to me, mommy! Why won't you talk to me?"  But I remained silent.  I waited for the timer to buzz and asked him why he was in time out.  He didn't even remember. He said "because I said no."  I explained to him why he went to time out and why his behavior was dangerous.  He continued crying throughout tooth brushing and getting into bed.  He cried while I sang Dexter 4 bedtime songs and declined when I offered to sing him songs as well.  He cried that he wanted to sleep with us.  We told him we were not ready to go to bed.  He said he didn't care and that he just wanted to sleep in our bed.

This is when the gut-wrenching "what do I do" thoughts crept in.  Is he crying now because he's still tired? Because I broke his heart? Because he's scared (from the movie he watched)? Is it a stalling tactic to stay up longer? Is it attention-seeking?  Would it help or hurt us in the future if we give in?

I kissed him and told him goodnight and left the room.  Ryan stayed and talked to him a little longer but the crying continued.  Ryan came out and it wasn't long before we heard through the monitor "daaaa-deeeee! Daaaaa-deeeeeee!"  Ryan went back and laid with him until he fell asleep. Compromise I guess.

I shed a few tears.  I feel really sad and guilty about it. I'm disappointed in myself not only for yelling, but for only making it one month without yelling and only 7 days into 2014.  I'm moving on. Today is a new day.  Today I will not yell.  I will review my alternatives to yelling and try something new when I begin to feel frustrated. Every day is a learning opportunity.

The Orange Rhino says:
Changing is hard.
Not yelling is hard.
Making a promise to do the above, is hard.
Mistakes will happen.
Moving forward and achieving my goal will only be harder if I don’t forgive myself along the way; if I don’t love myself along the way.
So love myself more, forgive myself more, I will.


  1. Don't be too hard on yourself we all have rough days. I think you taking the challenge of not yelling itself shows you are a good parent. Hopefully there are no more snow days in the future because I know being cooped up in the house never is good for anyone.

    1. I was good with it until they didn't take a nap and went ape-you-know-what at bedtime. Oh well. Tonight on the way home in the car, Theo said "mommy, we're not going to have a night like the other night, are we?" and we talked about it. He remembered exactly what happened and why he got in time out. We both apologized to each other. It was a productive conversation!