Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Keep Your Voice Down

Over Thanksgiving at my parents Chamudi had his usual highjinx--"I climb this" "I jump that" "I dump this"--and I had my usual responses, including the all-time favorite "I'm going to count to 5" and the old-standby of just picking him up and moving him.

My mother and her childhood friend (Don't you love parenting as a spectator sport?) thought it was hilarious. "It's so different," they said, recalling--with what seemed like nostalgia--how their mothers used to yell and yell and how they'd go from one house to another trying to figure out who yelled louder.

Mom's a yeller too--no doubt the product of her own yelling mama. Like Nana before her she's also a loving, caring mother, so I, like Mom, just accepted it as part of the deal.

And then there's me. I've got it in me...I definitely do. When Chamudi gets naughty and super-willful all I want to do is rage at him. I feel so angry and so disrespected and mad...at this cute little two-year-old who I love more than life itself.

But I've got something else in me too. Maybe the memory of what it's like to grow up in a loud household and the knowledge that Abba--who grew up with a mild mama--doesn't see a place for raised voices in a happy home. Or the knowledge that by reasoning with Chamudi I'm both teaching and modeling self-control. Whatever it is I swallow my anger the best I can...and I'm always, without exception, glad that I did.


Anonymous said...

So I also am from a yelling--no, screaming--home, and I've vowed not to be that way since I hated it. So instead, only when I am really desperate, i count to Silly 3. I feel the need to do it, but then I say ooooooooooooone, tttttooodly two, th-th-th reeee or some such and I calm myself down while actually getting some action on my son's part. Means that I haven't had to yell quite as much. Thank goodness...

Maya said...

I'm from a yelling home, too. And I also hated it and refuse to do it. I like the count to silly 3 idea from anon! So far this has worked for me: I stop whatever I am doing, say my daughter's name in a low, serious, deliberate voice, followed by "no." You have to maintain eye contact. Of course, she's really sensitive and that often makes her burst into tears. I could see it not working on, say, someone like my brother.