09 May 2014

I used to yell a lot.

For one thing, I used to be more angry.

Then there was the toddler factor. Those tiny people don't listen to reason! Sometimes I just couldn't take it anymore and I resorted to my own primitive form of communication.

These days, I'm more even-tempered, and my tiny people are mid-sized and capable of logic, at least some of the time.

But the one thing that will push me over the edge EVERY TIME is lying. As I've said to Maddie and Riley countless times, tell me the truth, even a hard truth, and we can work on resolving the problem, whatever it may be. But lie to me, and then what can we do? Lies hide the real problem, and keep us from finding a solution.

Riley has been the one who experiments more with lying, but tonight it was Maddie who looked me right in the eyes and denied something I knew she'd done. I know They—you know, the capital-T They—say that at this age, it's best not to make a big deal of a lie, just calmly acknowledge that you know that the child has been dishonest, ask for honesty next time, and move on. I'm sure that's great advice, and I try to follow it.

But tonight? Tonight this is what I did: LOST MY SHIT.

I was so bothered by Maddie's insistence that she was telling me the truth, even when I knew she wasn't. It was so . . . defiant. And disrespectful. And BRAZEN. And she was so good at it! The preview of coming attractions was too much to bear. I'm so gullible and she's already so smooth. I can see what's coming in the years ahead, and my fear got the better of me and I yelled like I haven't yelled in a long, long time.

In the end, she came clean and I apologized and everything is OK. Now she's exhausted and I'm exhausted and I feel so bad about the example I set. I've apologized to her and we're fine, but it hurts.

A friend posted on Facebook today that she'd watched the movie August, Osage County, and that she was still trying to sort out how she felt about the film. I saw it about a month ago, and it was tough. Humans can be so cruel to themselves, and so cruel to each other. As I was yelling and as Maddie was yelling back, and as we slammed doors and blustered about and cried, I thought about that cruelty and about what motivates it, what we learn from it, why there are times you know you're engaged it it and just can't stop.

I hope I can learn something from this. I hope Maddie can, too. And I hope we can help each other in that process. I ordered for us a book to read together, one that a friend and her daughter enthusiastically recommended, and it will arrive tomorrow. May it be helpful to both of us.