-“What book you reading, mommy?”
I lift my eyes from the book and smile. After a pause I respond:
– It’s called “when parents get angry”. She is five years old. And yet. She smiles at me with a goofy raised eyebrow and responds: “Really? That’s cool!”
Getting habitually angry is like drug. One shouldn’t use anger as a parenting tool. Even when it appears to be effective. Next time, you may need to yell louder, make crazier threats. And it’s a slippery slope.
Looking at parental anger from this perspective, like a drug needing its dose upped, helped me detach from it. Quite effectively.
Yesterday though, as we were leaving a restaurant (and we had a pretty good and exciting day) Jackie got grumpy for not getting her an extra juice made of peach, like the other kids got, on their way out, while Jackie and I were in the bathroom.
I was tired. I was disappointed, I was irritated at her unfounded stubborn pout, which she wanted to make evident. We discussed it. The others had left but we took a sit. I slowed down and walked her through the day’s events. For perspective. I assured her of my best intentions and love. Then we got up and walked fast to catch up with the others.
We stopped two more times, as she pulled her stiff hand from mine. At that point I only told her I got very upset because of her attitude. But I tried to not be extravagant with the amount of words used. I kept it simple and and made room for silence, to let it sink in. I was already over it and I joked about something to lighten the mood. To which she responded… “thank you for not getting angry.”
She has broken things, she has lost things, she’s been stubborn and testy. Kids stuff. But her emotionally smart brain makes incredible connections. After I told her what book I’m reading, she’s thanked me on those few occasions for not getting angry. Even a trace of irritation dissipates at such an expression of gratitude. It’s very disarming!