If I Were a Kid….

504 days of loving more!

“Mommy, what time do you go to bed?”

Before I even answered with, “oh, normally 10:00 ish” I stopped and thought, “why was my son asking me this? This is odd.” Then it dawned on me. I knew the genesis behind this seemingly innocent question; he was trying to figure out how many hours it would be from the moment I left his room to go downstairs to the moment I returned for bed. He was trying to figure out how many hours he could stay up late playing before I busted him! Oh, I was so on to him. Or so I thought.

“Why are you asking me this?” I said.

“Well, I want you to go to bed early, you know, so you can be calm and not cranky like today.”

He answered ever so slyly while batting his eyelashes. This line was right out of my mouth; it was totally something I say when I am tired and it is a reason I give him for why sleep is important. In other words, when delivered with batting eyelashes I knew it was bologna.

“Try again, I don’t think that is what you are really thinking.” I said politely.

“Well, yes and no. I think you stay up too late so um, um, just tell me, I’m interested.”  This time I decided to indulge him, why not right? He still had three minutes before lights out.

“I try to go to bed by 10:00, 9:30 on a good night. Because I do need my rest. Now tell me, really, why do you want to know?”

“Because I think you should go to bed at 7:00, like me. Because if you did, you would be a kid like me. And being a kid is fun. Way better than being a grown up. If you were a kid you would have so much fun!”

Speechless. I was absolutely speechless. But my mind wasn’t; I couldn’t stop thinking of all the things I would do if I were a kid.

If I were a kid, I would try to sneak out of my room at night to ask my mom for one last back rub.

If I were a kid, I would steal a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and run and hide in the living room and eat it instead of dinner.

If I were a kid, I would make plans to sneak down on Christmas Eve and catch Santa Claus in the act.

If I were a kid, I would tattle tale on my brother for not cleaning his room.

If I were a kid, I would cry and cry and cry some more if my dolly and blankie were lost.

If I were a kid, I would spill my milk at breakfast, lunch and dinner and then whine that my dress was all wet.

If I were a kid, I would run around screaming and jumping and playing tag with my friends inside because it was raining and I felt cooped up.

If I were a kid, I would take my time going to school because I wanted to pack every toy I had.

If I were a kid, I would complain if leftovers were served because it just wasn’t what I wanted. Period.

If I were a kid, I would ask my mommy a thousand questions to keep her from leaving me at night just so that I could have more one on one time. I might even ask my mommy what time she went to bed.

If I were a kid, I wouldn’t want to be yelled at for doing any of the above. If I were a kid….

Wait. I was a kid. I was a kid and I wanted to be understood, loved, and taught, just not yelled at. I was rarely yelled at as a kid and for that I am grateful. I remember all of the above situations clear as day; and I remember being spoken to in a firm voice if needed but always a calm, understanding, and “let me help you understand so you don’t do it again” voice. And it worked. Again, I am grateful because I have been yelled at as an adult, and it feels awful. Beyond awful. I don’t want to be yelled at as an adult, so why would I want to be yelled at if I were a kid?

Tonight, as my son hemmed and hawed and questioned away, and I watched the clock tick-tock closer to 7:00, closer to my break time, I found myself getting antsy and wanting to shout, “just go to bed and don’t you dare sneak out!” Instead, his simple reminder of what it is like to be a kid evoked my empathy.

My son reminded me that I too was once a kid; that everything my kids have done that has made me want to yell…I did too. I too stayed up late to play; I too peppered my mom with questions galore; I too did things that drove my mom nuts, intentionally or not. If I did all the things my kids do and I didn’t want to be yelled at because it scared me, why should I turn around and yell at my kids for behavior I so very much understand and induce fears I so very much experienced?

This picture could totally be of my brother and me.

And my son reminded me that kids are just kids and that part of being a kid is exploring and having fun. Oh when I used to yell at my kids for doing what they deemed to be “fun” things like pouring out the cereal to find the prize, playing tag around me while I was on the phone, or splashing each other and accidentally me during bath time, I was taking a bit of fun out of childhood and really, why do that unnecessarily? Because while I do have fun as an adult, it just isn’t that same as when I was a kid. My son was right, being a kid IS fun. Sure, sometimes the fun gets out of control and needs re-directing but it doesn’t need yelling. I can handle fun situations turned funky by remaining calm and not shaming the spirit of fun. My parents taught me that and my son reminded me of that tonight for which I am grateful.

And perhaps most importantly, tonight my son reminded me that I can teach him and his brothers how to be a good kiddo without yelling at him because that it is exactly what my parents did.

Not yelling is hard. But it can be done. And it is way more fun than the alternative. And feels a heck of a lot better. For everyone involved, kids and adults alike.

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30 thoughts on “If I Were a Kid….

  1. I love this blog and I feel so much the same way. I’m a yeller and I hate it!! I have been trying to stop for 15 years. My oldest is 16. My thought lately is that I just need to knock it off. I haven’t yelled today and it feels good. Usually I yell because I’m frustrated with myself or things I haven’t done. But I love this last entry!! We are all kids and we just need to relax and have fun:) thanks!! Your awesome:)

    • I am the same way. I do my best to prepare as much as possible for the next day or ahead of time before walking out the door. Many times when I snap or yell at my oldest, who is 4, is because I failed to prepare. I decided that I would get up early, and then don’t, and lose my patience because he feels my stress and just wants me to be pleasant with him and decides to drag his feet, when I am rushing. Today, I acknowledge early that I was going to be late for work today and there was no point in flipping out on him. We had a pleasant morning, neither of us were stressed, we made it to the sitters late, and I made it to work late. But I didn’t arrive to work in a bad mood, I didn’t arrive to work with chest pains, I can be pleasant with my co-workers and customers.

  2. I am working toward being a rhino… I hope to become “orange” level eventually. (I start each day trying so hard not to yell … I’ve made it a few days in a row, fell off the wagon, got back on…rinse, repeat. The thing is, I *was* yelled at growing up — a lot. And now I think I know why. While my mom was far from perfect, she broke a TON of cycles, parenting techniques from the dark ages – the memories of her sharing them with me are enough to still bring me to tears. So, the very least I owe her memory is to continue breaking negative cycles. But my daughter makes it so hard sometimes: she’s a spirited 5 y/o who has a hard time focusing in on anything but her joy in the moment. Which I can roll with, typically. But tonight she was, honestly and truly, trying as hard as she could to not obey me — to the extent her new little friend at VBS was trying to help, saying “Caroline, your mom wants you to go with her!” (Needless to say, that about brought me to tears! –my child IS as bad as she feels, in my prospective, proven by this stranger’s reaction!) So all of this is to say, what do you do when your child is lookingr for any way to continue to disobey you?? At church, no less! I couldn’t yell had I wanted to…but I wanted to crawl in a hole and, saddest of all, felt for a few minutes that I wish I didn’t have kids! Awful, I know…

    • Hang in there. I too was yelled at as a kid a lot and I do really think it is harder to break the habit when it’s something you’ve grown up with.

    • well, I think you are doing a great job. Nobody gets it right the first time, and if you do, you’re not learning. Remind her that not obeying is not OK. It makes mommy sad to have to repeat those directions more than once. WE don’t give them rules to make them mad or in trouble, but to keep them safe. If there was an emergency, you need to know that she will do as you’ve asked right away, without extra prompting. Keep trying, keep failing. You’ll both get there and rejoice when you do. Make YOURSELF a star chart. We all like fun sometimes :)

      • Thank you for the encouragement, Heather… You make great points about the real-world consequences of listening and obeying — the FIRST TIME! Thanks for the star chart idea — great spin on an effective tool, and I think my daughter may just want to help mumma fill in those stars! : ) This wanna-be Rhino is a natural-born yeller who is learning to lose her leopard spots in hopes of becoming orange!

    • Jill, I was that spirited 5 year old. Is she just starting school this year? Ask her teacher(s) to give you a written run down of her day, while at school, and turn over what they say over to her pediatrician or a behavioral psychologist. I was a child who grew up during the over diagnosis’s of ADHD. The principal of my school suggested that I be evaluated for it, my parents to me to a general practitioner who swore that because I could hold a conversation while sitting still there was no way I could have ADHD. It wasn’t until I was going through my teacher education courses in college, that I discovered that ADHD can manifest in many different ways (just like any disorder, disease, or illness). Sometimes at my age my behavior appeared to be intentional or malicious, and occasionally there was forethought to it, but many times my behavior was impulsive (impulsiveness is a huge sign of ADHD in children, which is why some children with ADHD can not sit still, or find a book or a toy while cleaning and distracted and forget that they should be cleaning(which was me)), and I was a day dreamer (who somehow would also mange to hear everything going on in class and irritate teachers giving them the answer they were looking for when they thought I wasn’t paying attention). Look to catch her doing right things, because even in a firm, loving, teaching tone hearing everything that your doing wrong a lot wears on you, being told “you’re not lazy” in a childs mind, “Your lazy, but you shouldn’t be”, when in reality they really aren’t lazy, they just don’t know how to ask for help.

  3. Wow. This post had me in tears. I rarely got yelled at a kid, either, and I don’t understand why it is my go to reaction. Thank you for giving me much needed perspective.

  4. While laying in a snuggly bed at the end of a long day- tucking in my 3 yr old daughter. She (while staring at my face) says that she wishes I were ” a little kid”- i admit that that sounds nice and ask her why… “because if you were just my size, you could play with me all day long” GUILTY MC GUILTERSON!! my Mommy Lesson #9,472 – STOP (more often) and just play! Reading this brought that to my memory- and warmed my heart. I love it. Thanks for sharing your story!

  5. Ok, I almost cried reading this. I am not really a yeller but I tend to be very strict on my 5 year old and am a “just a minute” type mom (meaning I am almost always asking him to let me finish something before I go to him). I’m trying hard to be better about those things. Well tonight, I did raise my voice after he splashed me with bath water and I had already asked him calmly to please stop splashing. I ended up leaving the bathroom exasperated (his dad was with him) and didn’t even go in to say goodnight. I don’t know what the trigger was, why that got to me so much. He’s been much harder since the arrival of his little sister (she’s 9 months old this week) and he’s very sensitive, like me so he takes things very hard. I honestly hadn’t thought anything about it tonight while surfing the web and having my downtime until I read your post. Now I feel terrible, not only for telling him to stop splashing in the tub but for letting it get in the way of making sure he went to bed feeling very loved by me. I’m so thankful that I saw it though, tomorrow I will be better. I feel like a switch has been flicked and I realize that I have to stop saying “just a minute” and actually be there for him. He’s really an awesome kid and fun to be around – thanks for reminding me!! :-)

  6. I needed to read this before mr 4yo decided to draw on the wall, floorboards and up his nose with permanent marker! Epic fail today :(

    • Oh, Jen, your day sounds alike epic chaos — yelling within the context of permanently marked walls, floorboards and nostrils is probably the LEAST lesser of us would have done. Hugs to you for this calamity! Be kind to yourself, and KEEP TRYING, each day is a fresh start and new opportunity to grow and stop yelling. And keep your device open to this blog, for quick consultation — which is what I do…. : )

    • My 4 year old thankfully hasn’t done this recently, but as spirited 2 year old, with in a few weeks of each other, he did this, drew on our bed with a purple marker, and got into his daddy’s black shoe polish…I def. yelled with the permanent marker on the walls, floor, and himself (turns out he wanted tattoos like mommy and daddy), by the time the shoe polish incident happened, I just laughed, told him that it was naughty to do that, took a picture to remember the incident, and cleaned him up. I then went to work on our cream colored carpet in our apartment…thankfully by the time we moved they legally had to lay down new carpet.

  7. I made a list of things I would do if I were a kid…I plan on doing one thing on this list every time I feel myself getting frustrated with my kid. :)

  8. Thanks once again for inspiring me! Your constant upbeat, consistently hopeful attitude is so contagious–you are really helping to change lives in such an awesome, incredible way. You are truly helping to change the world. Thank you so very much!

  9. This is beautiful and the journey back to one’s own childhood so precious! I often find myself thinking “what they are doing really bugs me, but oh boy, I have been so much worse!!”. Always a good corrective for parents. Thanks for opening that perspective!

  10. on my 3rd week and i think my teeth are falling off from too much clenching. Everytime I feel like yelling, I imagine the Orange Rhino shaking his head in disapproval. Works all the time, almost. Thank you for inspiring me :)

  11. This made me cry, its so true. If only we all gave our children the time to explain their reasons, rather than presume a negative because we want our grown up time. Orange Rhino has reminded me, its not my childrens fault Im agitated/stressed/rushed, its mine alone. They are doing what children need the freedom and space to do, even if it is noisy/messy/busy.
    If I was a child again, Id want to do exactly the
    same as my girls pester me for – getting the
    HUGE pump up paddling pool up in the garden, in the rain, and cold because its FUN!

  12. Wow! What an amazing post and a nice slap upside the back of my head! I am just starting the day with my three but I am determined today to just sit back and watch them. Am I jumping to conclusions? Assuming the worst in them? Too focused on myself and my agenda? I need to really start asking the hard questions (which I’ve been avoiding because the answers are so hard to accept)! I came from a yelling household and I am determined that I will not raise my children in that atmosphere! Thank you for the wake up call!

  13. I found your site and am loving it. I often feel terrible for yelling at my children when it’s myself, or my situation, I am actually frustrated or angry with. Depending on a child’s age do you think the constant yelling of their past does them irrepairable/irreversable harm? My son in 9 and I’m wondering if it’s to late to change myself and our household to improve his outlook and self-esteem, or has the damage already been done to him by my yelling? Is this something he can recover from if I stop and provide a calmer, more peaceful life for him? Or is he already so tarnished, and has learned this negativity from my (very disappointing) behavior that he will carry it with him forever and end up not happy and enjoying his life like his example/role model, his Mom? I don’t want him to end up like me. I want to be a happy and more playful mom, who can have fun and provide a calm, peaceful, loving environment! And I want him to experience and learn from that, but I’m so worried about the negative impacts/repercusions from the previous years of my bad behavior.

  14. This blog post was a God-send to me today. I am an avid reader of the MOB society (read it everyday on my lunch hour) – and was totally blessed by your post today, so I followed it to your blog. Can I just tell you how much I need this blog and challenge? I have 2 little guys – ages 5 and 3 – and lately been beating myself up for yelling at them a lot. My sensitivity to this is compounded by the fact that my husband is calm and cool as a cucumber in whatever situation arises. I envy that and desperately want to be like that. I am intrigued by your 30 day challenge and want to take it – the next time you are offering one, please include me.

    I’ve already liked you on FB and have added your blog into my “must-read” daily list. I am so ready to do this!

  15. Wow! That is such a powerful message to me! I don’t know what it was like to not be yelled at or to have fun AS A KID. My stepdad yelled at me for EVERYTHING. For being a kid…and well, I started to fall into those same horrible habits. I hate it when I make my kiddos cry because I yelled at them for being kids!!! I hate myself for being unnecessarily mean! That’s when I knew I had to change!
    My most recent “let them be little” moment was yesterday after a huge rain storm…there were puddles EVERYWHERE!

  16. It seems a little cruel that childhood and adulthood are so distanced that it causes us to forget things…good reminders in this post. I was the WORST/BEST at stalling; depends on if you’re asking the parent or the kid 😉

  17. You said it! Amen! This is wonderful to remember sooo many reasons why to NOT yell….amazing! Thank you for this share 😉

  18. I needed this today!! I was the child who was yelled at constantly when I was alone with my mother, but never in front of others. As much as I hated this and resented my mother for it, I AM “THAT” MOM! I don’t want to be and today it stops.
    I was laying here reading a magazine when my oldest son came in hysterically crying that he was in BIG trouble. I asked why and he said he knocked his oreo blizzard over on the carpet. For a change I calmly asked him to go get the paper towels and carpet cleaner. To my amazement I did not yell or berate him. We just cleaned up the mess and went on with our day! I am so thankful for your story!!

  19. Great post! I love your blog…it’s so helpful to me to keep things in perspective. I know my children appreciate it…even though they’ve never heard of your blog :)

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