I was picking up our 3.5-yr old (J) son from daycare. It was a zoo in there. Kids screaming at the top of their lungs. Teachers also yelling, trying to get them under control. Then, in the corner, I saw it. A teacher, hunched over, hand clenched on my son’s upper arm. She was talking, no, seething, between clenched teeth.
“Stop it right now.”
“You are a bad boy.”
I could tell he’d been crying for a while. His face was red. He could hardly speak, yet he tried. When he opened his mouth to explain, she made sure to cut him off.
“I don’t want to hear it.”
What was your reaction? Did you want to jump through the screen and strangle this woman? This teacher, who dared lay hands on a child? Who used abusive, degrading phrases like “bad boy” and “shut up”? Do you want to know if I had that woman fired?
Well, I can’t fire “that woman” because “that woman” is me. And we aren’t at daycare, we are in my home. At the kitchen table, pleading with my son to come eat dinner. On the sofa, arguing because he wants another TV show when we agreed on one episode a mere half an hour ago. In his bedroom, struggling to get him ready for a bath, then again, getting dressed for bed.
Sadly and regrettably, I have said awful things to my son. To my three-and-a-half year old son. Three…
It happens at the end of the day. It happens when I have something planned in the evening and my kids aren’t getting into bed fast enough. It happens when I’m actually mad at something else.
Why should my son (or daughter) bear the brunt of my fatigue? Of my need to get things done off my checklist? Of my inability to identify what I’m actually mad at?
Yes, I have even been mean to Baby O who is 7-months old. Just this weekend, my 3-yr old said to me, “Mei Mei (little sister) doesn’t like it when you yell at her.” And then later, he said, “You should apologize to Mei Mei for yelling at her.”
My son is more mature than me.
As odd as it may sound, I’ve resolved this:
To treat my children the way I’d like caregivers to treat them.
How backwards is that, right? Shouldn’t the mother of her children treat her children the best? In most ways, and in most hours of the day, I am. But when fatigue comes… When they’re not doing what I tell them to… When I’m already upset at something else…I need to remember my resolve.
Can you relate?