Was Yelling at me Really Necessary?

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.”

His response?

“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.

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19 thoughts on “Was Yelling at me Really Necessary?

  1. Here you go again just what I needed to read. When I stop myself from reacting and take a moment to empathize with my children yelling less and loving more is so much easier. You are so right no one likes to be yelled at especially our children who look to us for love and guidance. Thank you Orange Rhino!

  2. You always make great points. Most arguments are premeditated. In my case, I am always premeditating my defense. For example, if I am driving through a parking lot and there are a lot of cars around, if some one yells at me I am ready to shout back “I didn’t design this parking lot!” There is almost always a rebuttal in my pocket. Truthfully, that isn’t getting me anywhere. No medals for best comeback. Silence is golden.

  3. thank you. we had a bedtime meltdown like I have not seen in months and it used all my patience up. Now I can go to sleep remembering that I will wake up refreshed, gentle, and extra understanding of the emotional roller coaster he has just gone through. Everyone just wants to be loved and to know they are good.

  4. So interesting! This is what our language can do! Words hurt! And over and over we are usling words to shame eachother and we bareley know it. It causes so much pain. Please read Marshall B Rosenberg “non violent communication”. It is truly an eye opener, one theory behind why there is so much musunderstanding, violence and pain in our world. We have to, HAVE to work on that empathy. And many of us react violently back, wanting to be nasty! That’s how we react cause we have been shamed and put to guilt so much. In a situation like that working with empathy one would have seen why the other person was behaving so appauling! Was he freaking out? Was he scared getting blame himself? Etc? It can be helpful when people are mean to you that they are suffering from it too. Our kids on the other hand, they can’t look into a lot of possibilities like this, they just feel. But they too can train their empathy , and so can we..

  5. Thanks, OR for the perspective. Having a “hate myself” moment for yelling yesterday and needing some inspiration to start over today. So, here we go again… Day 1 starting now.

  6. Thank you! Such a great post, and a great lesson. I’m sending to my friends with 3 little ones. She will appreciate it.

  7. Just started reading your blog a couple of weeks ago. You and your blog, I think, are helping me to save the life of my relationship with my children. All my yelling does is scare them and make them not want to be with me. That is an awful feeling (for all of us). I am yelling less and loving more as of the past two-three weeks! It makes a huge difference. Thank you!

  8. Thanks for sharing-what an interesting perspective and way to look at things from when the shoe is on the other foot! I had been doing really well and the last few days I’ve been back to crazy mom! I’m so disappointed and just feel terrible about it. However, I recognize what my triggers are now. So I printed out a bunch of orange rhinos on paper and my boys are going to help me cut them out and everyday I DON’t Yell, we will put one in a bucket. Appreciate all you are doing! You are really making a difference 🙂

  9. I really needed to hear this, but I have a quick question. When I read the security guard’s response to you, my first thought it that doesn’t seem like he was yelling. Was he calling you out, and being rude unnecessarily? Absolutely. But was he actually yelling? But when I think of yelling, I think of raising your voice, screaming, and losing control. My husband and I have conversations about this all the time. I don’t consider it yelling, but I’m definitely being negative and demeaning. Why does it matter to me if he calls it yelling? I can’t explain it, but it’s what I latch on to when I start becoming defensive. I just wish I had a better word to define it.

  10. Thank you for today’s post! About a month ago, I got yelled at by my boss for things that were beyond my control and that she claimed I was “mysteriously” supposed to know. I got the whole finger pointing, pounding on the desk, “get in the box” speech. I left her office angry, offended and wanting to cry. But, like you, I have felt like I really just want to do something out of spite. I won’t, of course, but I do find myself not trying very hard and really not caring any more.

  11. It is amazing how you are willing to bare your soul and share all that you did. That takes guts. Or love. You have so much love in your heart to help all of us “orange rhinos” that you are willing to share yourself like this. Your posts have always helped me so much but this one was a real eye opener. Never put the two together like that…its alright for me to forget yet I expect the grandkids to be more mature!?! What am I thinking? Obviously I need to be thinking more and reacting less. Again thank you…

  12. I found your blog just today. My kids are 7 and 3, and…well, I wish I had stumbled upon your blog much earlier! Your project is inspiring. Looking forward to reading your other posts. Thank you!

  13. Oh boy am I guilty of this one! And here I’ve been wondering why being mildly irritated (and using shaming language) gets me nowhere. I absolutely hate it when I’m treated that way; it totally ruins my day.

    And like your son, my daughter sometimes does honestly forget, and sometimes I’m sure she doesn’t. I suppose (she says grudgingly) it’s better to give her the benefit of the doubt (and then go scream in the closet). I have to keep remembering that all people do their best all of the time, even when it doesn’t look like it from my narrow perspective.

    Now, the alternative? I just read somewhere (maybe here??) that, given the choice between telling the truth and being kind, it’s better to be kind. For someone who lives in her head more than in her heart, the truth has always been more important. But as I look at how miserable I can make my daughter, I realize that this old dog needs to learn a new trick. I’m off to google “kindness.” Thank you Orange Rhino!!!

  14. I SO needed to read this today…about forgetting and making mistakes and what we all need when we make a mistake! Thank you Orange Rhino for your insight, your brutal honesty and LOVE!

  15. your words really touched me… i also felt the same when i am yelled at. most of the time i get so pissed off that it ruins almost my whole day… and i want to tell my husband how i feel when he yells at me when i make small mistakes… really telling you i am very prone to make mistakes.. i dont know what to do.

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