I was an elementary school teacher for thirteen years. I know that yelling at a kid isn’t the greatest way to get them to listen to you.
I’ve been a mom for twelve years. I know that yelling at my kid won’t get me anywhere – unless you want to count a trip to the fighting ring.
Everybody knows that if a child blurts out a naughty word when he’s upset, that’s the worst time to call him on the carpet for it. The worst time to try to shell out discipline.
Everybody knows that. Even I.
Unfortunately, the most critical pieces of child-rearing wisdom somehow always get stuck in the back closet of my subconscious when I need them most.
Like today. When B said the “F” word.
It wasn’t the first time. It was the second. The first time was a week or so ago, when he gleefully called something “mother-f-ers.” Being the informed, calm parent and former teacher that I am, I flew into a blind panic that my son had used the “F bomb”, then jumped all over his case about it and asked where he learned that word. He became so angry that he burst into tears and went outside to destroy weeds.
And I felt like the worst mother on earth. He didn’t know it was a bad word (phrase, in this case). A gaming channel that he enjoyed spewed it out on a regular basis, so he thought it was a benign as other gamers saying “What the-“ and “holy crap” (though I don’t particularly care for the latter).
As soon as we both settled down, I told him what the word meant (good thing we’d already had the S.E.X. conversation) and asked him not to watch any more channels were the YouTubers used the “F” word.
And I told him he wasn’t to use it himself. Ever. Again. He agreed.
But today, he said it again. He got mad at J and said “f—ing thing.”
I would like to tell you I learned my lesson from the first time he said it. I would like to tell you that I waited until his anger subsided until I reminded him what we had talked about regarding that word.
I would also like to tell you that God has supernaturally healed the bunion on my right foot, and that ice cream and brownies are health foods.
But alas, I would be lying.
Thus it would be regarding my reaction to B’s second offense.
I could justify it by stating that he did know it was a bad word, and he had promised not to say it again. But how many times have I promised myself I was done saying a particular bad word? And in a fit of temper, let it loose?
Can you say, “hypocrite”? I knew you could. (Um, that’s from the twentieth-century children’s T.V. show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Thanks for making me feel old.)
Anyway, how fair is it to expect a pre-teen with sensitive emotions to exhibit perfect self-control when I can’t? Or, don’t.
It’s not fair. Especially when it’s the last day of the Mercury retrograde, a day when tempers are sure to be short and moods precarious.
Regardless, I jumped all over his case, but this time it was worse. This time, I told him if he was going to keep using bad words, I was going to move to Bora-Bora all by myself and never even send a postcard. I might have also made J feel bad in the process by insinuating that he’s not an assertive enough disciplinarian.
B exploded, J simmered, I fumed. Good thing it was a chilly day, or we would have been roasting inside.
Time passed. B settled. J and I talked to him, and I apologized for handling the situation wrong. I suggested B say “blasted” when he felt the need to cuss.
Life went on.
I think I’m over it. But I hope I learned a lesson today. A lesson that will stick, and serve me well in the future.
The lesson? I need to spend the last day of the Mercury retrograde in Bora-Bora.
Wherever the…um, heck…that is.