Over the last two weeks, I learned a tough lesson about myself: I really do yell a lot more than I should.
Two weeks ago, I published a post called Old Yeller. I had said that I wanted to go for a week without yelling unnecessarily at Joshua after reading two blog posts from the Hands Free Mama and The Orange Rhino. For the most part, I was successful. I’ve even noticed that Joshua has been sleeping a little better at night (though the knowledge that I may have been part of the reason for his lower-quality sleep is heartbreaking) and that we’re both happier and more “lovey” with each other during the day.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, though. Once in a while, I lost control of myself. I hated myself every time I yelled at Joshua for no apparent reason but, unlike before I started the challenge, I cut myself off as soon as I realized I’d crossed the line and stopped speaking completely. Before I started this, I (embarrassingly) kept going on and on until I felt spent. Now I yell once — if at all — and then take my voice back down to normal. Sometimes it’s hard; Joshua really likes to get into things, as all toddlers do. I don’t mind it when he opens my utensil drawer and empties its contents into a cardboard box. I don’t mind it when he digs through my dresser, hanging bra straps around his neck and putting my striped socks on his feet so that he evokes the image of a cross-dressing Rainbow Brite. I don’t mind it when he opens all the DVD cases, takes out the paper liners, and scatters the discs all over the floor. I don’t even mind it when he throws all the pillows and cushions from my couches onto the floor and then jumps on the couches like they’re trampolines.
That kind of stuff is annoying, but it isn’t a big deal.
But when he drags the couch cushions into the kitchen and uses them to climb onto the counter while I have food cooking on the lit stove, I get a little upset.
I put him back down on the floor, ask him not to climb on the counter again because it’s not a safe place, and he cries.
A minute later, he’s at it again. Again, I put him back down on the floor, ask him not to climb on the counter again because it’s not a safe place, and he cries again.
And then he does it again.
There are only so many times he can do that, each time trying to get a little closer to the stove, to touch the hot pots and pans, to reach into the boiling water or smoking oil, before I start to lose my mind a little bit.
I’ve tried many types of redirection and even strapping him into his booster seat, and regardless of what I do he keeps dragging things — couch cushions, dining room chairs, his Cozy Coupe — into the kitchen and climbing onto the counter. Because of the way our kitchen is set up, gating it off is impossible, and so I find myself at a loss. I’ve come to realize that the best I can do is to keep all sharp and otherwise dangerous objects locked away in cabinets, and to keep the sink clear of dirty dishes wherever possible (because he likes to touch them, throw them on the floor and, worst case scenario, to put them in his mouth. Ewww!). I know that eventually he’ll learn to stop climbing in there, but until then I need to be vigilant and to keep my cool as best I can.
So, having said all that, and now that Thanksgiving is over, I want to try again. I’m going to up the ante this time: two weeks with no unnecessary yelling. If it goes well, I’ll shoot for a month when this new challenge is up. I know this challenge is helping me to strengthen my bond with Joshua, and I will do everything in my power to continue pushing in the right direction.
Two weeks starts now!