Did I ever tell y’all about the time when my kids were all little bitty and my middle child, who was quite mischievous and constantly needing correction at that time, bore the brunt of the wrath of mommy most days?
Well today’s as good as any day to tell you.
So there was this time when my kids were all little bitty. As in 4, 2 1/2, and 1. This time in life, having 3 preschoolers back-to-back-to-back, was BY FAR the hardest thing I’ve EVER done. As in EVER. Most days I was lucky to make it out alive.
Also at this time, my middle child, who was 2, was being very mischievous and sneaky. I was CONSTANTLY having to correct him and discipline him and redirect him. Basically, I couldn’t leave him alone for even a second.
There was that time he got into my makeup,
that time he sneaked bites of cheese from the fridge (leaving teeth marks as proof),
that time he wrote all over his face in permanent marker,
and even that time he downed a bottle of cough medicine when we thought he was in bed.
This preschooler was testing me like no one ever had before. Or since.
And let’s just say I wasn’t handling it so well.
And let’s just say I was yelling at him constantly.
And let’s just say it was an emotionally traumatic time in life for all of us.
Then one day, we’re watching a Veggie Tales DVD. The “Lord of the Beans” one. Which, incidentally, is NOT my favorite Veggie Tales. Nor is its Silly Song my favorite. In fact, (sorry Veggie Tales) it’s probably my least favorite out of them all.
As the Silly Song roles on, a very veggie girl comes out and starts yelling in a foreign language at Larry the Cucumber, who is dressed as Elvis, making it sound like she’s yelling a bunch of gibberish at him. It was high-pitched and screechy. And very annoying.
And that’s when it happened.
That’s when my middle child points at the TV and says, “that sounds like mommy.”
*eyes bug out*
“You think that sounds like mommy?” I asked my two-year old.
“Yes! It sounds like mommy!”
*tears well up*
*heart is ripped out*
*world rocks a bit*
Here, I’ll just let you watch it. Then you can get the full effect of this story. (You only have to watch it to where she comes out and yells the first time if you want. Unless your kids are around. Then you’re stuck watching it all the way through. Sorry)
Yes, that’s what he thought I sounded like.
I was devastated. I had no idea that’s what I sounded like to him day, after day, after day.
But after he pointed it out, I realized, that IS what I sounded like. I sounded like an annoying, screechy, high-pitched, gibberish speaking veggie girl to him.
Okay, maybe not a veggie girl, but you get the idea.
All of a sudden flash backs to Charlie Brown came to my mind. Where the parents and teachers all sound like “wah, wah, wah, wah, wah,” to him.
And I realized that for my middle child, mommy sounded like high-pitched, screechy, annoying gibberish. Here I had been wondering why my yelling at him wasn’t working! It was just mommy’s tone of voice to him because that’s what he heard all. the. time.
And so I tried to be more mindful of how I sounded to him after that. I tried to retrain his ear to hear my ACTUAL tone of voice, instead of what he perceived as my tone of voice.
It was hard. I failed often. But in the end, it was a good little wake up call for me. I truly had no idea how I sounded to my toddler.
Friends of ours actually taught us a good way to get your children’s attention without yelling. You actually LOWER your voice. Which, sounds really absurd. (At least it did to me.) But actually instead of raising your voice, if you start to talk very quietly, they have to pay more attention to hear you and it has the same effect, but all without yelling.
And you know what?
It actually works.
Although I still occasionally go on a yelling rampage.
And have flash backs to that Veggie Tales incident.
This mothering thing is hard.