Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Who knew that 3 words could put such fear into a little girl’s heart? And who knew my own name could conjure up the worst of feelings?
Over the years, I often wondered if perhaps this was the main reason I used to hate my own name. Either way, I knew I abhorred the way my parents had used my full name in anger and frustration and vowed that if I ever had children of my own, I would NEVER use their names in such a manner.
Yet, here I am, years later, a mother with a 6-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter . . . who is clearly guilty of the full-name shout when my kids get too difficult and won’t listen to anything else. I don’t resort to this tactic very often, but there are those days that could try even the most seasoned and patient parent. Typically, those days will go something like this:
Daughter: (running up to me while I’m busy) “Mommy, he’s being mean to me!”
Son: (not far behind) “Nah-uh! SHE started it!!!”
Me: “It doesn’t matter who was mean first. You are both fighting, and it’s not nice. Give each other a hug and say you’re sorry!”
Both: (very reluctantly) “Oooookay . . . Sorry!” (each giving the other a poor excuse for a hug)
Me: “That’s a little better. Now go play nicely.”
Not even 15 minutes later, I will hear arguing in the next room, so I go to investigate:
Me: “Okay, what is going on in here?!”
Me: “I know it’s not ‘nothing’ because I heard it from the other room.”
Son: “She wasn’t listening to me and playing like I want her to!”
Me: “You shouldn’t be bossing your sister . . .”
Daughter: (interrupting me) “I don’t like him anymore ANYWAY!”
Me: “Why don’t you two go to your rooms and play separately until you can be nicer to each other?”
Both: “FINE!!!” (storming off to their rooms)
Almost a half an hour I hear the little pitter patter of feet above my head and giggles as they race from one room to the next. With a sigh of relief that the war has ended, I turn my attention back to the task at hand. Then, from out of nowhere, shrieks and screams ruin my relieved mood. I call up the stairs for my kids to come down and tell me what is happening. But even after I yell at the top of my lungs, I get no answer. The squabbling only gets louder.
Racing up the stairs in record time, I reach the ruckus, finding my son and daughter in an active tug of war with a toy. I yell some more to get their attention, but they don’t even acknowledge my presence. Feeling my patience waning, I knock on the door with a couple loud thuds and then throw the full-name shout out there in all its glory.
Immediately, the chaos ends, and my children both stare at me with their mouths open and eyes wide. They don’t move a muscle or make a sound. They know now that Mommy means business and that they had better listen up!
With my frustration vented and the situation diffused, I have them both sit down with me and talk the problem through. A compromise is reached and a real apology is exchanged, and then my kids are back to playing as though nothing had ever happened.
As I sit for a while longer watching them play, I can’t help but feel a little guilty. Am I a hypocrite for resorting to a tactic that I once hated? Or is it worth the outcome? Really, is the way I use the full-name ploy the same as my parents’? In the end, I have to conclude that although I picked up that little habit from my parents, I have learned from their mistakes, and my kids are happier and more carefree than I ever was . . . even with the occasional frustrated use of their full names!