I admit, I can be a yeller.
There’s something so satisfying about cutting through all of the noise with a bigger noise. And that moment of silence that comes after a yell is so perfect and beautiful, not unlike the crystal vase in which I collect the money I will bequeath to my children’s future therapists. But I do hate yelling and would like to do less of it. Therefore, my Lowball New Year’s resolution is that I will not yell at my kids for an entire 24 hours.
They say that the key to keeping a New Year’s resolution is to make it small. Don’t promise big changes, but take smaller steps towards a larger goal. That’s why I am committing to one day without yelling. I feel like that’s a fairly easy goal that I could then build upon. The idea is not that I will get to the point where I will never yell at my kids again because a) I believe that being yelled at — in the right doses — is good for a kid because some things deserve yelling, and b) who am I kidding.
It’s not that I yell at my kids every single day because I don’t. But yelling was the preferred form of communication in my family when I was growing up, and it’s the language I have adopted with my own children. Despite its usefulness, however, yelling just isn’t nice and it would probably be good for everybody if I did it less. There are going to be a lot of challenges in getting through multiple days without raising my voice, however.
For example, the hours between midnight and 6AM are the wild west of yelling hours. Once your kid reaches a certain age, waking up every night at 2am is no longer coolio. It’s another one of those times where you’re super sympathetic in the beginning, because your poor baby is having nightmares, but by week five you’re like, “Oh my god, what do I have to do to convince you that monsters aren’t real. Seriously. Tell me. Because I am willing to hire a shaman at this point.”
It’ll be hard for me to resist that late-night “go to sleep!” yell, because the rage I feel at 2AM is not unlike what that guy in the movie Unbroken is feeling in that scene where he lifts that big piece of wood over his head and screams.
It’s something like that.
Then there’s getting ready for school. This involves daily arguments about losing shoes and “forgetting” to brush teeth. I may need to sit in lotus position the entire time. I don’t usually need to yell at my kids while they’re at school, but the moment I pick them up the struggle begins again. One of the most reliable times for your kid to be an asshole is on the drive home from school. They’ve been gone long enough for you to miss them, but that only lasts until you get in the car and they yell at their sibling for looking at them.
And my goodness, let’s not forget homework and dinner time. In order to keep myself from yelling at my kids during these times, I go with a “natural consequences” approach. You don’t want to do your homework? Fine. You can talk to your teacher about that in the morning. You don’t want to eat your dinner? Then I guess you’re going to be hungry. I might have hungry, uneducated kids, but I won’t have to yell at them.
And then, of course, there’s bedtime. Bedtime is the Jekyll and Hyde of parenting activities, because when you’re saying goodnight to your kids you are full of love for them, and you can’t believe how lucky you are to be their parent. But then you leave the room, and they ask you for another hug, and you do that, and you leave the room, and then they ask you for water, and pretty soon you become this:
What I’m saying is, there are a lot of really good reasons to yell at kids in the course of a day, but I’d like to take advantage of fewer of them. I am definitely doing to need something to do with my rage instead, though. I imagine this is the kind of thing that gets people into knitting clothes for small animals.
I think I’ll just scream into a pillow instead.
Related post: I Wasn’t A Good Mom
This piece first ran on Mommyish. Read more here.