"Carter, I'm sorry that I yelled at you. Will you forgive me?"
Blue eyes widened under eyelashes that are way longer than mine. His nose crinkled a bit, and his mouth opened like he wanted to say something. But nothing came out, so he shut his mouth once again and carefully listened, staring intently at me.
"I need you to understand that how I said it was wrong, but it's important that you never ever do that again."
He looked down, those wickedly long eyelashes now brushing rosy cheeks.
"When the baby is sitting in the bumbo seat, you are NOT to see how far back you can snap his head. You could really hurt the baby, and it's important that you are very gentle with him so that he can grow up to be big and strong and then he can play with you. Do you understand?"
"Obey." He whispered, twisting his little hands together.
I remembered the 30 seconds that I stepped out of the room, my terror upon returning to find this scene, and my confusion when Eli was laughing hysterically- happy to be noticed by his brother.
I thought about how my first instinct was to yell and yell at Carter. HOW COULD HE BE DOING THIS! And then the guilt that followed when I saw the confused look on Carter's face at the harsh tone of my voice.
Every once in a while something will happen- my children will do something that will make me stop in shock. WOW! Can't believe they just did that! Someone should really teach them to not be like that, and so I lash out in return with my tone. HOW DARE THEY.
And every time, it slowly dawns on me- that is my job. I am the teacher. A job that requires gentleness and love at all times. The lessons I am to teach are not detailed in a syllabus. The when and where are ever changing. The hows fluctuate daily, and the whys are the obvious unspoken.
Even in the most frustrating, exhausting, awful moments- I try to remember that this is a teaching moment. A moment in which they are watching me, waiting for my response. A moment that takes us one step closer to learning a valuable life lesson. Sometimes it's one step forward three dancing steps back to a silent "What Does The Fox Say". But these moments are invaluable. These moments build the future of my children.
As I begin each day, I pray to have patience, a calm spirit, and the kindness to reply to them how I would want them to reply in situations in which they are frustrated.
30 seconds after I pray this- I have to pray it again. And then 30 seconds after that.
Because when I walk into the room and poop is flying- when the baby pees on me- when Addison is expressing frustration through hours of whining- when the house is exploding around me- when dinner is refused by tiny mouths- -when NO ONE IS OBEYING ME- when my day seems to be a failure...my first instinct is to yell. NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!
But I am learning- I build stronger bridges, make more of an impact, teacher a longer lasting lesson- when I get to the "why did you really do this?" "what were you really trying to say?" "how can I reconnect with you right now?" in each situation with grace, calm, and a loving spirit.
I wish this was a one and done lesson for myself. I wish I only had to apologize that one time to my son because I was perfect after that. I'm not perfect, and I find myself back here far too often. But I pick myself up each time and keep going. Because that is my job.
And when the bad moments fade only into distant memory and the good moments take over- it is really good. The laughter, the smiles, the emerging personalities, the helping, the little people communicating with me, the family we are building- it is really good. We work through the hard so that we can fuel up again with the good.
As my two year old stood in front of me- looking puzzled at my apology- I asked him for a hug. His eyes started twinkling and he threw himself at me backwards so that I had to catch him (this is the way he hugs). His head fell back, laughter exploded from his lips, and his entire body shook with joy because of course I take the opportunity for a good ol' tickle.
"I love you." I told him and kissed his forehead.
He said nothing as he freed himself from my grasp- pretending to wince at the kiss, but the little smile on his face gave him away. As he walked away, I heard a soft, "yank you"- his remote response to everything now.
I thought about his cute little version of "thank you" and how he says it without being prompted.
I taught him that.