Look. Sometimes I am not proud of myself. There are days when all I really want is to sit on the couch, watch Forensic Files on Netflix, and NOT BE TALKED TO OR TOUCHED ALL DAY LONG. But hey, I am a parent and I’ve waived that right for the next few years. Except for my birthday, because it’s what I asked my husband for as a gift hahaha.
Anyway, on these bad days, sometimes I raise my voice. We have made big strides towards being a yell-free home (my husband has no yelling capabilities, I covered it all for him), but it is still a daily decision I make. We’ve decided that explaining things to E is much more effective than lording our authority over him. We want him to practice cooperation instead of blind obedience. AND HEY SURPRISE! IT ISN’T EASY! Because OH EM GEE sometimes i don’t want to explain any of my actions and I want you to just please for the love of God stop running and let me put lotion on you.
WAIT I had a point. Oh, yes! So sometimes, I do still yell (really rare, but each time is pretty biblical levels of frustration) and of course this makes E cry. He is always taken aback by how loud my voice can get, but it’s really the look on my face that makes his face crumple and he breaks down into little sobs of despair. Then he will come up to me and whimper, “Mommy, do you still love me? Do you forgive me?”
He understands the concept of forgiveness because it’s something I have said to him during a particularly bad day and was not being very nice. It went something like, “I’m sorry I raised my voice about so-and-so, please forgive mommy. I know you just wanted to play. I’ll try not to yell again next time. But also please cooperate when I ask you to do so-and-so, so that we are both happy!” Something like that. Whatever. I try not to remember the times when I’m being a jerk.
What took me aback was this idea that I won’t love him anymore when I’m upset. I don’t know where he picked that up, but that idea broke my heart. Of course, each time we tell him that nothing in the entire universe could ever stop us from loving him. And this turns into a whole conversation about how mommy and daddy need to be firm with him sometimes because we always want what’s best for him. But even if either mommy or daddy is upset, it never means that we love him less.
This may seem like such a heavy concept to lay on a 4-year-old. But here’s the thing. They understand so much more than we give them credit for. It is extremely amazing how much kids can soak up in their little brains and their little hearts, and how they organize this information into their understanding of the world. They are beginning to conceptualize the way relationships work, the concept of actions and consequences, and their place in this life. I don’t think it’s ever too early to start showing them how the world works, since there’s nothing we can do to protect them from it. The most we can do is to prepare them. And while we’re at it, try not to yell at them for being who they are.