It was just a few days ago that I was doing some pointless, aimless browsing and I happened to chance upon this goldmine of a blog, theorangerhino.com. I had no idea that anything constructive could ever come from this breed of browsing. So, I was pleasantly surprised. Now the reason I call this blog a goldmine is because it was exactly what I needed at the time.
The thing is, my little angel is not so much an angel anymore. I mean kids grow up. And at some point, the halo starts to fade and the horns start to appear. We all went through that. We all have our own set of horns tucked away somewhere. It’s a fact of life. So, lately (read last 3 years or so) Ka had slowly started pushing her luck, testing my limits and learning from it. In the beginning, I was patient, then I started to lose it a bit and recently (read the past year or so) I had started to blow my top off at the slightest provocation. So much so that Ka just wouldn’t listen unless my top blew off violently, hit the ceiling and splattered all over the house. I know very well that yelling doesn’t help. Not a bit. Actually, sometimes it might work a little… no, who am I kidding? It is just an utter waste of time, energy, voice and everything else that it takes to yell at a decibel that would get through to a 5-9 year old’s brain. I had been trying hard to keep my cool and every time I did it, she would push my limits more and more until my efforts caved in like a house of cards. Sometimes she would even have the cheek to report to her father in the evening that she had made me say something 5 and a 1/2 times before she listened. It’s almost like she was playing a game with me. Challenging herself to beat her own record. As parents, that level of cunning and sadism in an 8-year-old is scary to watch. What’s more? Not only that yelling didn’t help, it was actually counter-productive. She got all the sympathy votes she could care for and I became the villain.
Then came the lectures from family members who came to visit. They thought I was a horrible parent. They didn’t realise that giving the benefit of the doubt was stage 1, which is where they were at and we’d sailed past that stage a long time ago. We’d tried every trick in the book and nothing worked. They thought and believed that children are always, without exception, innocent. They said to us, “Look at it from her point of view. She’s not doing it to spite you”. And we said, “Yeah! Right!”. What the occasional spectators didn’t realise was that they were in it for anywhere between 15 minutes to 5 days. We, on the other hand had been dealing with this for 3-4 years. We’d had enough and we were at our wits’ end. Moreover, we’ve gone through stage 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and have now, from our observational skills, experience, knowledge of our child’s personality etc, derived that the horns have started erupting. I can feel them when I comb her hair every morning. I can see that glint in her eyes sometimes. My instincts tell me that it’s time. It’s coming and there’s no stopping it. Now there will be scheming, lies, deceit, flattering, and manipulating. The dark clouds are rolling in from the horizon and it’s not long before it will be here. The worst part is that with every yell, the clouds seem to speed up. And that, my friend, is why parenting is a painful business to get into.
And so, right when I was about to either jump off the balcony or give the little one up for adoption, The Orange Rhino waltzed into my life and brought me some love and hope. I signed up for their challenge right away. I’m doing a week of no yelling to begin with and hopefully, if all goes well, I will someday be able to do a lifetime of no yelling. I’ve successfully completed 2 days of not even raising my voice, let alone scolding or yelling and I am so pleased with myself that I’m going to have ice cream for lunch. And you know what? Not yelling works wonders. Here’s a conversation I had with Ka yesterday morning:
Me: Ka, why are you using this crappy pencil. Where’s the good one that I gave you yesterday?
Ka: In my pencil pouch
Me: Where’s your pencil pouch?
Ka: (Shrugs) I don’t know.
Me: Where’s the pouch I gave you to use at home?
Ka: I took it to school…maybe…I don’t know
Me: Why did you take that to school. Where is your school pouch?
Ka: I thought I lost it. So I took the home one to school without telling you. And then I found my school pouch in my bag. So, I lost the home pouch.
Now, in the past I would most likely have said something like this: What the hell Ka? I give you a pencil everyday and you manage to lose it. No more pencils for you. I am sick of you not taking care of your things. Blah…Blah…Blah!
Instead I said: Awww…That’s okay sweetie. Here’s a new pencil pouch. Don’t worry if you lost the old one ok? This evening, at playtime, we’ll look for it together. Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll find it. We’ll have an hour and a half to search 🙂
In the afternoon, she comes back from school. She not only found her pencil pouch in the class cubby, she also remembered to put it in her bag and bring it home!!! Now that’s something that has never happened in the last 7 yrs. Not yelling R.O.C.K.S!!! Thanks Orange Rhino for inspiring me 🙂