“PLEASE GET YOUR SHOES ON! I’ve asked you five times, and if you don’t get them on RIGHT NOW, I’m leaving you home alone by yourself!”
It seems those words come out of my mouth once, maybe twice a week while we go through the morning routine. Throw in a “damn” here and there, and it might be more accurate. At some point in one’s parenting career, we all experience these feelings.
Before you start to call the authorities, no — I would never leave my son home alone. It’s one of those empty promises we offer our children so that they do what we are asking of them. If you don’t do this too, please tell me how you prevent the situations like above from happening.
It doesn’t stop at shoes either. It can be either listening to what I’m asking my son to do, or not do. At times, I wonder if we need to have my oldest son’s hearing checked but then I remember that he is the child who can hear a bag of chips being opened from down the block when he is playing with his friends.
As quickly as the frustration inside of me comes, it leaves. Then, a feeling of sorrow inside of me hits.
I start to wonder how I could yell at my son in the way that I did. Did he understand why? Does he know that if he had just done things right the first time, he wouldn’t have to be doing it again? Does he understand how much it pains me to sound like my parents?
I ask myself those questions because, more often than not, I am the one having difficulty remembering he is only 7 years old. He is just a kid. It is up to me to teach him that getting angry and yelling does not get you anywhere in life.
Like the time I was cleaning out our new car and I came across blue slime stuck to the floorboard. It had somehow escaped the plastic bag someone had brought it home in. Someone had stepped on the bag … and out it came. It would have been easy to be frustrated with my son even though it might not be his fault. Not completely. He had stepped on the bag, causing the contents to ooze out, but it was an accident. I had left the bag sitting there for a while and should have been the one to take it out of the car.
There was no reason for me to be upset with him. The slime, despite being stuck to the floorboard, wasn’t hurting anyone and eventually could be cleaned up. But I blew up any way.
It took a few minutes, but I gathered myself, sat down next to him and said, “William, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have reacted that way. I know it wasn’t your fault and I was just frustrated that we just bought this car and now there is this blue slime on the floor. I’m sorry.”
Even though he told me that it was OK, I knew that I hurt him. But I also knew my ability to say “I’m sorry” was just what he needed to hear so that he pushes past everything. Part of it is my conscience. I know that I was in the wrong, even though it took me a bit to realize it.
I come by saying I am not a perfect parent honestly. Being able to say I’m sorry to my family for the numerous times I’ve screwed up is the one area of my life that I feel like I am getting right. When I tell William I am sorry for getting frustrated with him, he starts to understand that not only do I feel bad about what I have done or said but that even though I am not going to get it right every time, I am going to try to better. And, until I can make no mistakes, I am going to be sure to always say I’m sorry to my son.
A version of this first appeared on The Rookie Dad. Photo: © Tatyana Gladskih / Adobe Stock.
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