A few days back my boys were tumbling around, “Please go play somewhere else” I asked, “There’s a sharp corner there.”
Five minutes later I saw my older child grab his little brother’s ankles and yank his feet right out from under him. Down went the little guy backwards, like a felled tree. WHACK went his head on the very same darn corner I’d just pointed out. Big brother’s face was a picture of shock and horror.
Filled with my own shock and fear I rushed into the room and SHOUTED at my big boy. I don’t remember what I barked out, but it was short and something to do with his choice of action. Then I grabbed the howling little one and comforted him.
Ummm, hello priorities?
I was SO angry with my older child for his bad decision (read: STUPID thing to do – yes the very word I’ve dissed before). I wasn’t thinking about how he is a wonderful, thoughtful, sensitive child who LOVES his brother deeply and demonstratively. No sirree. I was busy being ANGRY.
He came tentatively into the room but I shooed him away and held my shrieking little one.
Little one calmed down and I took myself off to a closed room. I needed to.
My adrenalin was pumping from the fright and I was in full fight mode.
Guess who felt like the enemy?
Somewhere from the distance I could hear my Enlightened Self saying, “You shouted at your boy”. Grumpily I asked myself, “What else could I have done in that moment?” No answer. The anger kept flooding into my focus. SO ANGRY! I gave up and just let it just come.
I let it flood me with its heat and drive to hurt back. I sat still and opened right into being THAT angry. I felt my fear about someone hurting my child. I let myself open up to feel the bigness of that. The primal me wanted to get rid of the thing that had caused me this pain and threat. It wanted to do something bad to the enemy.
Poor little enemy.
That’s why I’d removed myself.
The intensity eased (because I’d given the emotion space to just be) and my mind kept cycling, “What could I have done differently? Should I have done differently? Doesn’t that sort of behaviour merit a shout? But I tell my boys shouting is for warning of danger, nothing else (excluding games and fun of course). And I don’t want to shout at them. It scares them. It’s damaging.
So what could I have done differently?”
And s l o o o w l y it dawned on my adrenalin-infused brain that if I had simply rushed in and comforted my little one, his big brother – on whose face I’d witnessed horror and fear – would have joined me in comforting his beloved brother. It’s his nature to do so. And he would have deeply learned about what he did and how it had hurt someone. He would have had to properly deal with what had happened.
Then I felt bad because I’d robbed him of that natural lesson by imposing my own fright and judgement on the situation. I’d galumphed right on in there, feeling so entitled to call the shots and say it like it is, but in actual fact I was interfering and wrecking a fantastic, elegant and carefully created life lesson that my boys were involved in.
As a result my son was actually dealing with me rather than with the real situation.
Hold back, hold back, hold back in the heat of those moments. If I’m angry it’s about ME. Always. I must shut my mouth and remove myself from the situation. And practice and practice and practice some more. Deal with the disciplining when I’m calm.
My reactions are about me. Always. I am responsible for my feelings. It’s not about the children. Or anyone else.
It is never about the trigger. If the gun wasn’t already loaded nothing would happen when the trigger was pressed.
What do you think?
In the next couple of posts I’ll stick with this theme of anger and talk about consciousness and healing yourself – which I think is the essence of parenting.
Pass this on to others who may be interested. Let’s support each other in this growth and healing.