Old Yeller

A good friend of mine shared a blog post from Hands Free Mama on her Facebook page today; when I read the headline, The Important Thing About Yelling, I knew immediately that it was an article I had to read. I related to the post all-too-uncomfortably-well, because I have a problem.

I yell.

I yell a lot.

Just call me Old Yeller.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. How can you possibly look at Joshua’s sweet face and burst into a fit of rage? Well, let me tell you how. He’s two, and as a two-year-old he wears quite a few hats: Train Conductor, Shopping Cart Filler, Chocolate Devourer, Couch Cushion Mover, Cabinet Climber, Frankie Cuddler….and so many more.

And my (least) favorite? Professional Limit Tester. Oy!

The Cozy Coupe is no longer just for sitting in and driving; it’s for steering into the kitchen, and climbing onto the roof in order to easily access the counter. Dining room chairs serve the same purpose; for that reason, they’re all now locked up in my office. I might not care about his being able to reach the counter as much if I didn’t keep my butcher block of kitchen knives and glass Bath & Body Works candles there.

The dining room table is for standing on, reaching up to grab the chandelier, and swinging it wildly. (Fortunately, he’s not hanging from said chandelier while it’s swinging.)

The reading chair in my bedroom is perfect for dragging across the room, setting up in front of my dresser, and climbing onto in order to lick a perfume bottle or take a bite out of deodorant.

The drawers on Joshua’s changing table apparently double as a ladder. He uses it to climb (there’s that climbing again — are you seeing the pattern here?!) onto the changing table, and then onto his tall dresser, where his lotion and diaper rash cream are just begging to be opened and played with.

Now I know that some of these things seem stupid for me to get upset about, but after asking Joshua to stop doing these things for what feels like the 8,253rd time and he still keeps going back, I lose my cool. After writing this stuff down and looking back at it, I feel really dumb for yelling at him. It sounds stupid, but in the moment I just can’t help it.

Until now.

See, after I read The Important Thing About Yelling, I saw that the blogger had linked to another website called The Orange Rhino. The Orange Rhino is the blog of a woman who made a pledge not to yell at her children for a year. 365 days. That’s a long time. For someone like me, who grew up being spanked and yelled at frequently, and for whom yelling is all they know, 365 days is an eternity. I saw that this blogger (who intentionally remains anonymous) was set on not yelling at her four boys for a full year, and my first thought was, there’s not a chance in hell I could ever last that long.

My next thought was, maybe I can’t pledge a year right away, but I can pledge something. My son deserves it. I deserve it.

My family deserves this.

So here I am. I don’t want to overwhelm myself — I have a lot going on right now — so I’m going to start small. Really, really small.

I pledge not to yell at my son for one week. Seven days. Seems doable, right? Now, of course there will be exceptions to the no-yelling rule: The Orange Rhino yelled in case of emergency, and occasionally she used an “oopsie snap” (meaning, she yelled by accident and then stopped herself as soon as she realized what she was doing). A firm voice also didn’t count against her. These same rules will apply to me. You can read about the rules in greater detail here and take the challenge yourself here.

So, I will not yell at Joshua — unless absolutely necessary — for one week. I truly feel that this will not only make me a better, happier, and more confident parent, but that it will also strengthen the bond between my son and I. I’m going to try to get The Hubby on board with this as well, because he’s just as guilty as I am.

One week starts right now. Who’s going to enter the Yell-Free Zone with me?