You all know that I have never made a mistake in my life, right? And that I am perfect?
Nope, I have never put red socks in with my husband’s white undershirts, dying them pink.
Nope, I have never accused one child of doing something when it was another, causing a major uproar in the house.
Nope, I have never hit the garage when pulling in, not even twice, or three times, turning my blue bumper a nice shade of white.
Nope, I have never bumped into a stranger, spilling his coffee all over him.
Nope, I have never forgotten to pack my son’s lunch, leaving him “starving” at school.
See, I am perfect. I never make mistakes.
HA! Who are we kidding? I make mistakes all the time; then normally I apologize and make it right. Today I made a mistake. It was an innocent one. But guess what? I have never been more embarrassed or publicly shamed by such an innocent mistake. And I have never been less willing to apologize and make it right. Why? Because when I made said mistake, I was yelled at.
It all started with a left turn. My boys have been going to the same camp for four years now. Every summer I always forget on the first day that pick-up is different than drop off and that I can’t make a left turn into the driveway but that I have to park on the street and wait, patiently in line. The head counselor always reminds me and I graciously back up and go to the line. I have no problem with waiting in line; I have no desire to cut the line. And I have no desire to intentionally forget the “rule” but you know, these things happen.
People forget simple things.
I forget simple things.
I make mistakes. I am human after all.
So today when I pulled up instead of walking as I had the past two days, and I saw that the driveway was empty, I completely forgot the rule to go to the street. I just assumed I was the first one there and that it was okay to turn in. WELL, I was SO wrong. The head counselor stopped me and politely reminded me of the rule. My response?
“Oh goodness. I totally forgot and it looked empty so I figured it was okay. I will back up and go get in line. Sorry!”
The response was “No, you are already here, just pull up and wait for the kids to come out.”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to cause trouble.” I said, again, always the first to make amends if I make a mistake.
So, I followed his direction. I pulled up. Well, if looks could kill.
Four, maybe five other of the camp leaders and the security guards looked at me. Then they all started talking to each other. Thanks to my ridiculous hearing, I could hear it all.
“Who does she think she is? Why is she cutting the line? What is she doing?”
At this point ALL the other parents who had been waiting in line were lined up behind me, car windows down waiting to ask for his/her child. Obviously, now was the perfect point to announce publicly to everyone that I made a mistake.
The security guard, with the MEGAPHONE, said:
“HEY LADY in the blue minivan. You can’t cut the line. You need to drive around like everyone else and wait like everyone else. It’s a really simple rule.” He then motioned with his hand where I should go, as if I wasn’t going to listen to him.
Ouch. There was nothing nice, understanding or polite about it.
I didn’t like being yelled at. Nope, never have, never will.
I felt shamed.
I felt pissed off to say the least.
I had made a simple mistake; there was no need to yell at me. None, whatsoever. Mistakes happen. Mistakes Happen!
I parked my car and walked in. I had to pass the mega-phone-mega-not-nice gentleman and my first instinct was to apologize, because again, that is what I do when I make mistakes. But I couldn’t find it in me. Nope. All I wanted to say was,
“You know, that wasn’t necessary. I made a simple mistake. There was no need to yell at me in front of everyone.”
The fact of the matter was that yelling at me wasn’t necessary. At all. And the fact of the matter was that his yelling at made me too angry to be polite; too ashamed to be polite; too frustrated to be polite. So I walked right past him, got my son and left. I didn’t even make eye contact. It seems I couldn’t “forget his yell” and that “forgetting a rule” caused me to “forget my manners” as well and be the bigger person.
And that is when it hit me. Recently on vacation, when my son whipped me with his frog lovey, I said to him,
“#1, you know you don’t do that. I reminded you yesterday.”
“I forgot mommy. Sometimes I just forget what I am supposed to do to be right. To be good. It is hard you know.”
I will not lie. At that moment, I brushed off his answer with an “uh huh” and I really felt like he was b.s.’ing me. I thought to myself,
“#1, that is a lie. You didn’t forget, you just chose to do it and ignore what I had told you before.”
But today, oh today I realized I perhaps made a mistake. Today I realized, maybe he did just forget. I just forgot a rule today. I forget lots of things, even to-do’s I write down on paper an hour prior. There is so much I want to remember to do: remember to thank my husband for all his hard work for the family, remember to catch my kids doing good instead of catching them doing bad, remember to call my friends and check in regularly instead of letting too much time pass, remember to give my kids a hug and kiss each night before bed even when I am rushing to get to me-time.
Yes, there are a lot of important things to remember. And of course there are a lot of little things to remember too: buy more diapers, pick up medicine at the pharmacy, sign permission slip for school, arrange playdates. The list of things to remember goes on and on and on.
And the same goes for my son. Except for him, remembering all the big stuff and the little stuff is harder because he is younger with less experience. If I can’t remember a simple rule, and I don’t like getting yelled at for making a mistake, why would my son? Why should I not believe him when he said that he simply forgot? I am certain there are times when he does legitimately forget “the rules” because his mind is overflowing with things to remember. And I am certain that other times he is truly full of bologna and didn’t forget a thing at all.
Either way, today just proved to me yet again that yelling at my son for simple mistakes or forgetting something won’t do either of us any good. Yelling won’t inspire him to genuinely apologize and yelling won’t keep his mind open to remember the lesson about whipping me. When I got yelled at today, I shut down. I didn’t want to be nice back. I didn’t really hear every word he said, I didn’t fully listen. Nope, instead I focused on how crappy I was feeling in the moment. Yelling didn’t make me want to follow the rule better next time; it just pushed me to want to break it again for spite or at least do something nasty. (Mature right? I know. Like I said, I am not perfect.)
But seriously, above all else, today proved to me that of all the things I need to remember, one of the top ones is definitely to work hard to remember is to yell less and love more. Oh, and I need to remember that if I make a “mistake” by snapping too much or being shorter than I like, not to yell at myself. It really does no good.