All a Matter of Semantics
Eating too much pirate booty...

Are You a Yeller?

The first time that Chance stuffed so much toilet paper into the toilet that it overflowed I explained to him that you don’t play with the toilet, pointed out the big, very visible mess and told him he wasn’t to do it again. The second time he overflowed the toilet I had a “serious discussion” with him about why the toilet is not a toy and how we use toilet paper properly. The third time I walked into the bathroom as he’s feeding the end of the toilet paper roll into the water and getting ready to flush (you know how they do that? spin the roll quickly as you flush so it continuously feeds?)… which, coincidently, was only TWO HOURS after the second overflow incident… I lost it. I started yelling. Not abusive yelling or name-calling, but pretty much along the lines of everything I had said before… in a much louder voice.

“CHANCE! What did I tell you?! The toilet is NOT a toy!”

And that final time he stopped, looked at my face, and listened.

I have really mixed emotions about yelling. I grew up in a very loud family so I don’t think being loud is necessarily a problem. There’s a difference between verbal abuse and, um, expressing oneself in a loud tone (and I’ve had experience with both so I’m keenly aware of that difference).  However, as a “modern mother” my first knee-jerk reaction after I’ve yelled, regardless, is to feel guilty and doubt myself. Am I just being mean? Why can’t I be more patient? Does he really understand? 

But I’m also honest enough to admit that while I’m yelling, while I’m mad, I feel pretty darned justified. 

(And I feel guilty just typing that.)

I’ve watched the teachers at my son’s preschool quite a bit. They’re really good at always talking in a calm, quiet voice, reinforcing good behavior as needed, correcting bad behavior gently. I seriously do not understand how they do it! All day long. In those same calm voices! 

I think for 75-80% of the time I’m patient and creative enough to work around the toddler misbehaviors. We have a lot of hugs and affection, we have a lot of fun, even on bad days. But there are times when I lose it.  When my voice level ratchets up and I’m yelling. There are moments when I know my son is purposely pushing my buttons. And then there are other days where I’m just not at my best and I don’t feel like being victimized by my child’s bad behavior. 

(And I feel guilty typing that, too.)

Because good moms should always be patient, right? Not to mention proactive and effective enough as parents that any incidences that might result in yelling would be headed off. Really good, modern moms, who are up on the latest research and child-rearing techniques, know how to minimize their child’s bad behavior altogether… while whipping up cookies and multi-tasking the fuck out of the housework.

(Yeah, sometimes the research makes me feel a little marginalized.)

Because research says that yelling really isn’t all that effective.

Except… except…

…sometimes it is.  Sometimes raising your voice gets your child’s attention when they are so busy tuning you out. Sometimes yelling makes them realize you’re not playing while they’ve been gleefully shrieking in disobedience.  

Ugh. Not that I feel any better knowing that yelling sometimes works. 

So what I’d like to know is how many other parents out there yell?  Does anyone have a yelling, or anti-yelling, philosophy? 

On a completely different note, I was very saddened to hear of Heath Ledger's death.  As those of you who read me know I'm not one to follow the lives of celebrities, but I have always been incredibly impressed by Heath Ledger's talent and role choices.  That he left behind a young daughter, to miss seeing her grow up, I just find terribly sad.

 - the weirdgirl