We worked so hard to get them to copy our words. Countless repetitions of “Say ‘mama’” to entice some form of repetition was the mantra of baby-hood.
Now I hear my parenting in an echo chamber and I have to admit, I don’t always like what I hear.
In a rush to get packed and ready to go on a summertime adventure I heard, “You have got to be kidding me! How is it that you still don’t have your stuff packed and ready to go? Do you even have your toothbrush in that bag?”
And I immediately intervened, reminding the sayer of the comment that their harsh tone and sarcasm were not appreciated and in no way helping the receiver of the comment get ready to go!
And then it hit me.
Those are my words coming out of the sayer’s mouth. Holy crap: I suck.
Of course when my child says such things I am eager to point out the fault in their delivery and message. Shouldn’t the same be true when they come from my mouth?
We live busy lives in a busy world. We are always in a rush to get where we are going faster than we are going to get there. Therefore, it is understandable when we crack. I am not implying we are perfect parents and that we won’t continue to show cracks in the facade of perfect parenting. But, my goodness. Do I really sound like that?
Crapola. Double crapola.
So, in an attempt to rectify the situation I am taking the stance that acknowledgement is half the battle. Since they were my babies, they have been my echo chamber. So to save society from their sassy mouths, I have committed to the following:
Breathe. Let’s be honest. It is in the heat of the moment that I lose my cool and stuff comes out of my mouth. The kind of stuff that makes me sound like a drunken sailor. Admittedly, I am fond of the occasional pointent cuss word. So, I will make a conscious effort to take a deep breath before letting the chaos roll out of my mouth. I think I may need to go to yoga more often to get my breathing under control.
Apologize. When the echo chamber rings true and I hear my kids say things I have said to them that warrants punishment, I will apologize. They deserve the apology too, right? Empathize. When their mouths get the better of them, I will empathize and name the feeling that caused the verbal explosion. Perhaps it will sound something like this: “I can tell you are frustrated. Could you say it this way instead…”
Look for the echo chamber that shows the good. I have to acknowledge that my kids do say things that make me proud. They compliment a friend, acknowledge a sibling’s job well done, identify with a frustrated peer. These are the moments I hear them say things that have been said to them. I must acknowledge and compliment this just as quickly as I lay the smackdown when they sound like a drunken soldier.
This best laid plan will help me to move beyond being mortified when my kids echo the things I say to them. I want them to have the courage to speak the truth and yet be empathetic and patient in their delivery. They deserve that from me.
To be truthful, sometimes I will just yell. Because, let’s face it: we are all human.