I just cannot stand the way my children are so consistently negative about everything, always.
Is this really true? I don't know, but it feels true. I remember reading something once - I can't remember where I read it, but it said something like* negative feedback makes ten times as much of an impression on your brain as positive feedback. The idea is that you aren't supposed to say anything negative to someone until you've said at least ten positive things. I'm pretty sure that my children did not get that memo. Instead:
On being asked to set the table, one of my children cries and said Why do I have to ALWAYS set the table for ALL of the days? as if I'm running some kind of table-setting child-labour sweatshop. All day, it's Yuck, I hate soup / I don't like that place / I don't like these people / You are telling me off! **/ I do'nt like to do that / I don't want to read / DO IT FASTER!/ She is hitting me / He is biting me /I hate potatoes / I do not love you / You forgot the cups, Mummy / I hate bread / and so on. (And on and on and on).***
One of my children hisses like a snake when they are angry; the other screeches like a cat , and right now it's like living in a zoo. Nothing I can do is right, and it's is getting me down. It feels like there is a lot of drama in our house at the moment, a lot of drama and anger radiating at me from approximately the level of my elbows. Often it's anger about things I have no control over (the weather; how long it takes the laptop to fire up) and I feel battered and bruised.
It drives me crazy, and my job, of course, is to do the opposite of be crazy. Instead:
That's very good hopping / I can see you running / What fast running! / You are so gentle with the cat / I love to listen to you sing / You are growing every day / Well done for being kind to your sister. So much positive feedback. It's everything short of I love the way you breathe, honey. (And I do love the way they breathe, especially when they are asleep). There are so many lovely things about them. There are so many positive things to say.
The problem is that they are going through a stage of often not being very nice****.
|we have no idea what she is talking about! We are freaking adorable!|
I was making their breakfast this morning and Blue was losing his little tiny mind at me about something trivial. He was hissing at me (okay, he's the snake) and I felt this massive surge of anger well up within me. How dare you I thought. You want me to be kind to you and I've just got nothing left. You've used it all up. You've sucked it all away. You're awful to me - you insult me, you hit me, you yell at me, you bite me and you still need me to love you. You hurl insults at me, and expect kindness in return.
And then I realised exactly what I'd unconsciously quoted - When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. (That's the apostle Peter, talking about Jesus in 1 Peter 2). What I was really thinking, when I was angry with my son, was stop expecting me to act like Jesus.
I am not very good at being like Jesus.
Here's why I don't always like being a mother very much: they need me to be like Jesus, for all of the days. I cant' do it, of course - I need grace upon grace upon grace. Fortunately, I know a person who's giving that out for free*****.
One good thing about this parenting gig - it sure does keep you humble.
Next episode will be cute pictures, I promise.
*Pretty sure that's the standard format for references now. It's 2013, people!
***If I had a dollar for every time I've said Let's try that again with respect!, a la Karyn Purvis, I'd have, well, an awful lot of money - although it turns out it's pretty hard to direct a child to say 'I don't love you' with respect.
***** I love them to the moon and back, obviously, but surely I'm not the only one who feels this way about my kids sometimes?
*****That's Jesus again, in case you were wondering.