So. About 6 weeks ago, I ceased yelling at my son. I’m a champion yeller. I learned it from my parents. They are also champion yellers. My parents never, not once, raised a hand to me. (My mom, I think, pulled my hair once.) Instead, they yelled so they did not beat me. That sounds terrible to say, but in retrospect, I was a Shit. Not one to cause trouble at school or at friends’ houses, I saved my smart mouth for my family. I knew what I was doing. And yelling helped them keep their sanity. So when I had my son, and he was old enough to understand PISSED OFF, clearly, the best route to discipline and express my displeasure was to rattle the fucking walls.
I knew how silly yelling was. I’d read articles about it. How it can be detrimental. How it doesn’t solve anything. And I would think, “Well, that’s all well and good, you stupid hippies, but YOU DON’T GET HOW FRUSTRATING MY KID CAN BE.” I would go for a bit without yelling, maybe a week or so, but then my dear son would have some sort of meltdown over, like, finishing his green beans and I’d be right back to losing my shit. I really cannot stress enough that I’m not a “kid person,” I don’t get them, I don’t remember what it’s like to be a kid and not understand that the world does not, in fact, revolve around me. Plus, maybe most importantly, yelling is easy. And it means I’m the boss, right?
Well, as I’ve learned, it doesn’t mean that. It actually means that I’m not in control at all and I’ve let my kid get to me. Also, it really does no good. My son doesn’t listen better after I yell. It’s old hat at this point. Doesn’t even phase him. Which is worrisome. For a number of reasons.
So I quit. No more yelling! I’ve had a couple of slip-ups here and there, once was a “DANGER!” yell re: opening the front door while we’re still in bed, and the other was a PMS-induced lapse of reason wherein we got into it over how much money I gave him for the ice cream truck. Fun fact about 6 year olds: They don’t understand how money works, and are not cognizant of the fact that 4 quarters equals one dollar. Not my finest moment, arguing with my son in the car in the parking lot of his day camp. Sigh. But such is parenting.
Behavior-wise, I can’t say there have been huge improvements. My child is still more argumentative than Johnny Cochran on Divorce Court. He still really hates doing things like folding his clothes and putting them away (or, really, anything that I ask him to do). But I don’t care! And that is the beauty of it. I’ve relaxed soooo much since making the conscious decision to not raise my voice. I still dole out punishments. The mama giveth, and the mama taketh away. He is still on a tv ban from a stunt he pulled three days ago. But I’m calm. The house is quieter. The best part, though? We were sitting in the living room one evening, and my son said to me, “I don’t like that you don’t yell anymore, Mom. It makes me feel bad for being mean to you.” FUCK. YES. I WIN. EVEN WHEN I DON’T WIN, I WIN. See Mom? I didn’t need to bring him to Mass for him to feel guilty!
It’s a difficult road to travel, this parenting thing. But sometimes it takes someone pointing out to how you’re fucking up to make it a little easier. Now, if only I could get him enrolled in some sort of pre-pre law program so he can start arguing effectively, and, presumably, eventually, for boatloads of money.