This morning on the way to school, Melody and I had a conversation that showed me something about myself that I need to work on. She said her notebook (that she draws “fashion” in. . .she currently wants to be a fashion designer when she grows up. =) only had 24 pages left. The kid has so many notebooks I can’t count them all. All over the house and the car. She’s addicted to notebooks and is always trying to get a new one.
Me: “That’s still half the notebook.”
Melody: “No it’s not.”
Me: “I’m sure it is. The notebook only had like 50 pages to start with.”
Melody: “I’m going to count the pages.”
Me: “Fine. But I don’t want to hear about it. You’re not getting a new notebook when you have that many pages left.”
*silence while she counts*
Melody: “I’ll just say that 30 is half the pages.”
I felt irritation starting to rise. Hadn’t I just TOLD her I didn’t want to hear about it? How dare she disregard what I said and tell me anyway. (No, I’m not joking folks. Just typing this here I see how immature that sounds. Yikes.) I opened my mouth to lecture her about disrespect and ignoring the fact that I’d told her to keep it to herself. . .then I closed it again. What was I doing? Was it really SO important that she not tell me about the pages in her notebook? Was the aggravation boiling around inside me really about a notebook, or was it something else. I decided to take a different path and just acknowledge that her notebook started with 60 pages and that it was a good thing she still had so many left to draw on. Then I reminded her that when that one was gone, she had several others in the house that she could replace it with. She smiled with that realization and went back to drawing.
I, on the other hand, starting to dig deeper behind the oddly strong feelings that had just surged about a silly notebook conversation. And I realized it wasn’t about her wanting yet another notebook. It was about control. I hate to feel powerless, and the fact that she creatively skirted my “orders” to keep quiet about the number of pages in her notebook triggered a feeling of powerlessness in me. . .and that feeling tends to push me toward anger. The good news is that today, I caught myself and acted like the adult. The bad news is, I don’t always. . .and when my coping skills are weaker than usual (due to exhaustion or a headache or some other unplanned issue), I tend to lash out in anger over minor things that make me feel powerless.
So I’m taking the time this morning for some introspection. How can I stop myself from reacting too strongly when my kids “disobey” an order I slung out that doesn’t even matter? How can I stop myself before I even make such unnecessary edicts? I want to learn to choose my battles for things that really matter. . .not just about things that might annoy me. I think I have my work cut out for me, but that’s no reason not to start today.
Building these emotional muscles causes as much pain and “soreness” as building physical ones. . .but I’m in this thing for the long haul. . and these little ones are worth the pain. =)