Life is not all butterflies and sunshine when you have a house full of Geeklets.
On the contrary! Some days I feel like all I do is yell.
This makes me very sad and also very angry (at myself). How is it possible that I am still so affected by oatmeal on the wall or yet another small brotherly fist-fight, after several years of the same things day after day, that I get all bristly, Hulk out, and let rip yet another high-volume lecture? You’d think that I would’ve developed some sort of a tolerance to oatmeal and fights and whatever else the Geeklets could throw at me.
But, no. The instant a blob of oatmeal goes schlop on the wall, my blood pressure spikes. My abs tense. My eyes bug out. My upper lip twitches. My hands clench into fists and my rib cage gets ready to expand. I take a deep breath, and . . .
Have you seen the Disney / Pixar film Brave? Spoiler warning!
The girl’s mother turns into a bear. Now, in the movie, it’s not really the mom’s fault that she turns into a bear — I mean, she doesn’t get all angry and turn into a figurative bear before turning into an actual bear — although she does provoke her daughter. Everything turns out all right in the end, and Mama Bear turns back into a human. Just so you know.
But I . . .
I don’t actually get all eight feet tall and furry. I don’t start eating raw fish. In short, I dont turn into a real bear. I do the figurative bear thing, all the way.
As my body goes into “fight or flight” mode, everything in my head starts sounding like this: “Why? Why? WHY? Why this again? Why me? Why the heck do my kids keep doing the same freaking things over and over and over and over again? Even though they know they shouldn’t? Even though they know oatmeal doesn’t belong on the wall? Even though they know I’ll get all mad and they’ll get sent to bed early? Why can’t my kids just be calm and well-behaved little angels? Why, God, WHY?!?”
And so it is that I flip out and turn into Mama Bear. My roaring reverberates off the oatmeal-covered walls.
Sigh. Perhaps I exaggerate. Perhaps the guilt I feel after each and every one of these episodes magnifies my failings in my mind. I don’t know. But, after cooling down and thinking about things, this is what I do know:
Kids are kids. There will always be the possibility that oatmeal will end up on the wall (or the window or the ceiling fan) because kids are kids . . . and this is a good thing.
Kids are impetuous. They do the same things over and over again because they simply forget, over and over again, that those things shouldn’t be done. Kids exist in the moment. They don’t think five minutes ahead. They don’t plan. They don’t use logic to discern, “If this, then that, and Mom won’t like it, so let’s not do it.” They live in the now . . . and this is a good thing.
My kids, and your kids, and everybody’s kids, are decidedly not calm and well-behaved little angels, and shouldn’t be. If they were, there would be something very wrong with them. On top of that, how would we, the parents, learn any patience, tolerance, or forgiveness, if we never had anything to be patient about, to tolerate, or to forgive?
Long story short, the childlike — and childish — behavior of children has a purpose. It helps us to become better people as we help our little people grow into big people. It all works together, hopefully more or less in harmony (depending on how much oatmeal is on the wall), to make the world a better place.
Now if only I could remember all that the next time I have to break up a pint-sized fist-fight.