Last night, I came in the door from picking up a child from the one-thousandth activity of the day, to find one dear child still on the couch. Hand’t moved an inch in ten minutes despite being asked to do so before I left. Eyes still glued to the phone. Before I knew it – before he even spoke a word, or moved a muscle – I started being wicked cranky.
“What are you doing?” I barked.
“Why are you still on the couch?” I demanded.
“I thought you had work to do?” I implored.
“Did you email me that document that needed printing?” I practically yelled?
My son’s response, “WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME?!”
And pause…how could I not? That stung. Ouch. I don’t know why. Sorry kiddo, not how I want to treat you or who I want to be at all. Darn-it. And also pause because that is the best thing to do when triggered and even though I was clearly already triggered – this was a new trigger and set me up to legit yell if I didn’t pause!
As I paused…so many thoughts started flying through my mind, by two main take aways:
2. He asked a really, really good question. Just because I am the adult and he is a kid doesn’t mean I always know everything or am always right. His question needed to be asked. Why was I being so impatient and rude? What had flipped my peaceful, I’m in a good place mood, to I’m in a cranky mood so quickly?
I want to share what happened next because, well, that’s what I do.
I immediately paused and remained in the moment and the uncomfortable feeling of, “yuck, I was just a total jerk.”
I started reflecting and asking myself all sorts of questions because I didn’t know why I was suddenly in this mood. All I knew was that I no longer wanted to be in it! I wanted to get back to a peaceful place so that bedtime could go smooth (and quick!) and I could go to be feeling good about how the day ended!
Why am I in this mood?
Was I anxious because it was late in the day and still so much to do?
One of the above?
Some of the above?
I walked in.
I saw the beautiful Christmas tree.
I remembered how I was looking forward to getting this particular child (who struggles to sleep these days) to bed, hopefully early, so that I could watch cheesy Hallmark movies while wrapping presents.
I was anticipating PEACE and me time. This sweet child had told me he had work to do. Had told me he was going to shower. His being on the couch, are you ready for this cheesy insight? It felt like a threat to my peaceful moment. So I charged with my words. I acted like a Gray Rhino…
Many of you ask – why The Orange Rhino? Long story short – I needed a moniker because I was anonymous when I started. My son was picking his nose once and said, “I can’t yell but I can still pick my nose” which led me to google Rhinos because somehow the word “rhinoplasty” came into my mind at that moment. The symbolism was striking and still is to this day, perhaps even more so.
Gray Rhinos -tenacious, vigorous and naturally peacefully animals who aggressively charge when provoked.
Whoa. I considered myself peaceful. Looking back, I laugh at that. I am not peaceful, but I wanted to be peaceful! But I didn’t want to charge aggressively (yell) when provoked.
Last night, last night was a Gray Rhino moment. I needed to turn back into having The Orange Rhino mindset of remaining peaceful and warm so I apologized to my son for my cranky responses, I told him there were better ways for me to share my feelings and that I was feeling frustrated that I asked him to do several things and he hadn’t done them yet. Then, to ensure he didn’t charge back at me, that he didn’t meltdown or get aggressive with his words, to ensure that we remained in a peaceful, productive place, I asked him, “how can I help you get these things done?”
Just kidding. See, not perfect.I did apologize and share my frustration politely and in a more productive manner. But I forgot the working with him part, the problem solving together part. Being an Orange Rhino isn’t just about my behavior. Our kids have their own inner Gray Rhinos too! We need to bring out their Orange Rhino’s.
Since I missed the latter piece of working with him – he was now in a charged mood. He barked back at me some more and stormed off upstairs. I gave him space. I arranged a floral bouquet I had bought earlier to bring me some joy and get me to a peaceful place. I then when upstairs when I knew I was ready, truly ready, to interact in a productive, peaceful, Orange Rhino kind of way.
During these last nights of Hanukkah, these last days before Christmas, last days before Holiday break (or early days of break), likelihood is our kids are in more charged moods. Meet them with warmth. Meet them with a problem solving, let’s do this together attitude. It will go a lot farther. It is easy to think, “They need to learn to do things on their own!” Yes, they do, but sometimes our kids – like us – benefit from a little breaking of always learning and doing things on our own. If this doesn’t resonate, I leave you with this question.
How do you feel when someone decides to offer a helpful, loving hand and help you and do something with you, instead of you being left to do it alone by yourself? Would you rather, this week in the week of heightened stress, get into a fight with your child and them have a meltdown over a chore OR would your rather work with them and teach them empathy and the gift of helping others by extending a hand by working with them? Just food for thought. More so a really direct, blunt reminder to MYSELF. eh hem. Read your own words The Orange Rhino.
(c) The Orange Rhino, 2022