Earlier this week, while I was working on my computer, I clumsily knocked over a cup of soda. Thankfully, Mr. Wright was close by and was able to do damage control before the globs of sticky tonic saturated my keyboard, and eventually made it down over the side of the table and onto the papers on the floor below. As I sat there holding up the pile of valuables, while he sopped up the mess (aren’t hubby’s awesome like that?) I thought to myself how glad I was that it was me who had made this MISTAKE and not one of my kiddos….
When I spilled the soda, it was easy to forgive myself. After all, I know I didn’t mean to do it, and therefore I am able to quietly scold my carelessness internally and then move on. But what if it wasn’t me???
I thought to myself about what would have happened if it had been my sweet spunky 4 year old who made this MISTAKE. What if she had tipped the coke over all over my computer? Would I have been so forgiving? What if instead of just dismissing this silly little event, I yelled at her, frustrated that something out of my control happened? What if this MISTAKE had actually done more damage? Had outright ruined my laptop? What would I do then?
I thought about all the times my kids did something by accident and I yelled at them, or put them in time out. Things that I knew intrinsically were mistakes, but to satisfy my own need for justice, I had to lash out. And nevermind the fact that that was wrong, but what would that do to my sweet little person? How would she feel if the person who was supposed to love and protect her got angry at something she didn’t even mean to do? How would she internalize that? What would it teach her about the nature of mistakes? About learning??? Pretty scary if you really think about it.
And then, when I really boiled it down, how much of her behavior at 4 years young is she really in control of at all? Impulse control is not the hallmark of a pre-k kiddo for sure. How many times was her “bad” behavior just being four?
I know I do not always have the most patience. My job is pretty intense, amazing but intense at times, and I know that I am not yet the kind of parent I want to be… but I also know that just by having thoughts like these, thoughts that challenge me as a parent, and pretty much as a person, that I am on the right track.
Thank goodness it was me this time, next time I will be ready