One of our family rules is “no talking back.”
I’m the worst offender.
“No! I had it first!” My five-year-old shouted from the hallway, angry fists clamped to her sides. She and her sister had been fighting over a toy, so I yanked it from their huddle and set it on top of the refrigerator.
“The toy is mine until you can learn to share.”
“No! Naughty mom! Give it back to me!” Her cheeks glowed red, and she scrunched her lips tight. I pointed calmly down the hall.
“Go to your room. Talk to Jesus until you have a happy heart.”
“I don’t want to!” Her scowl dissolved to tears. I grabbed her hand and ushered my thrashing daughter to her fluffy, doll-stacked bed.
“Lay on your pillow until I come get you for supper.” Sobs rang in my ears as I retreated from her room and latched the door.
Kindergarten. That’s the culprit. With half a school year behind us, I’ve learned to recognize the signs. Tired. Overstimulated. Sugared up from a classmate’s birthday treat. She’s plumb worn out from listening and thinking and socializing hard all day. When these factors pile, it doesn’t take much to trigger a meltdown.
“What’s going on with her?” My husband stepped into the kitchen, greeted home by our daughter’s outburst.
“She had a long day. . . again.” I sighed, then pulled placemats from a drawer and started setting the table. “She’s overwhelmed, I think. She doesn’t always know how to process her emotions. So she gets sassy. Just give her a minute to decompress.”
“I see.” My husband cocked an eyebrow toward me. “Where does she get that from?”
My hand stalled, suspended above a pile of forks. I lifted my chin, met my husband’s stare, and blinked.
Darn. She gets it from me.
Hey, I’m tired, too. Overstimulated? Bugger, yes—by the chatter of little voices asking for more apple slices and can you please braid my dolly’s hair and Mommy-Mommy-Mommy read me this story and Mom, guess what Quinn did in school today you have to hear this it was SO funny—and for a woman who thrives on introspection, the constant input can prep my brain for implode. By dinner time I’m, well, plumb worn out from listening and thinking and socializing hard all day.
Then my wonderful husband comes home and kisses a grouchy woman on the cheek.
Will you please pick up your shoes?!
No, I didn’t buy ketchup. Did you put it on the list? I can’t read your mind!
What do you mean, the van is on empty? You couldn’t have told me this earlier? I don’t have time to stop for gas tomorrow!
He jokes that I roar like a dinosaur. Oh how I wish I would crack a smile. But his good humor just makes me grouchier, so I stomp around the house in true T-Rex fashion.
And this is how I model restraint for my children? Lovely. No wonder my kindergartener talks back.
“Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. . . . Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers,” (Psalm 141:3, 5).
When my husband suggested maybe I have a tiny little something to do with our daughter’s attitude, I had to admit he’s right—and I appreciated the blow. Of course the blame isn’t all mine. A five-year-old carries childish emotions and childish whims. Some tantrums are natural. But as the grown-up in charge, I ought to demonstrate how to process those emotions—properly. Speak kindly. Show love. Take a time out before you snap. Instead, Momma T-Rex teaches the kiddos how to tear down the house with her jaws.
Yes. This is why I need the Lord—and a righteous man to
pick up his shoes rebuke me.
“May I come in?” I tapped on my daughter’s door and poked my head through. She lay sprawled on a crumpled bedspread, still crying. I perched on the edge of her mattress and pressed my hand to her back.
“Sweetheart, why are you so sassy lately?” Locks of tangled hair hid her face and she sniffled, offering no answer. I took a deep breath and swept a damp strand from her cheek. “Do you hear me sass Dad sometimes?”
She sat up and wiped her nose with her shirt sleeve. “Yes! You do it all the time!”
“Alright, let’s make a deal. I’ll stop talking back, and you can, too. We’ll be partners. You can help me.”
“Tell me when you hear me being sassy. When I’m grumpy to Dad, I’m giving you permission to remind me of our deal.”
“So I can call you Naughty Mom?” She grinned.
“Well, not exactly. Be nice about it, eh?”
“Deal.” And just like that, her cheerful disposition returned. I wrapped my arms around her, and she squeezed my neck.
Momma T-Rex, your time here is done. Sorry, old gal, but dinosaurs are extinct, don’t you know. They were wiped out in the flood—for the good of all mankind.
If this post encouraged you, please pass it on. You might also like The Foolproof Cure for Hollering, Love Is Not Easily Angered, and The Witch. I Hate Her.
Linking up with: The Better Mom, Playdates With God, The Mom Initiative, Titus 2sdays, Grace at Home, Rethinking My Thinking, What He’s Done Wednesday, Wifey Wednesday, Wedded Wednesday, and Things I Can’t Say.
Candice Wilkinson says
Oh a great post. I need to keep this in mind with my own daughter. My Hubby callers her “Mini me” cause she often has my expressions. Good lack with the sass!
I have a “mini-me” too! Funny how we don’t really know what our gestures and expressions look like until we see them in our kids.
Mikah @WithAllJoy.com says
My daughter isn’t even one-year old yet, but she teaches me so much about my heart and my relationship with God. Motherhood is such a difficult blessing. 🙂 I love this post. Joy to you!
A difficult blessing indeed, Mikah. God has used motherhood to shape me in ways nothing else could.
Melissa Baker says
Are you sure you were writing about you and not spying on me? Cause I have a sassy girl in kindergarten (plus two more sassy kids), and I know it is all my fault. Not sure if I could have the bravery you have. Great post!
Brave….foolish….sometimes I think the line is very fine. 🙂 Thanks for reading, Melissa!
Humbled here.. I memorized the “put a guard over my lips” verse FOREVER ago… but have learned I still have to obey the Holy Spirit’s nudge when he says, “SHUT UP NOW!” (okay- maybe the holy spirit speaks a bit kinder, but I’m sure He tires of me opening my mouth when I should just keep quiet).
Thanks for being honest and real!
It’s a good one to know by heart, isn’t it? And to apply – oh, yeah, that part. That’s helpful, too. 🙂
Hi there–I found you via Titus 2sdays.
Boy, can I relate to this! I picked a focus word for 2013, and it is RESTRAINT — mostly because I need to restrain my tongue!
When I hear tone of voice and words coming from my three young ones’ mouths that I know are from ME, ugh…Lord help me!
Thanks for sharing. It is always good to know you aren’t alone. 🙂
Thanks for visiting from Titus 2sdays, Selena! You are definitely not alone.
Oh how I wish my husband could come to that realization with my oldest. He shrugs off the comparison when I bring it up.
Good for you for talking to your little one about it!
And good for you for speaking truth in love…even though it’s hard sometimes.
What a beautifully written post, and one I can so relate to! My own daughter is 5 and starting to be a little sassy…and I know in my heart part of it is that she sees me and hears me.
Time for the dinosaur in this house to go, too!
Slay the old gal! We’ll do it together. 🙂
Thank you for this post! So true to my life. Thanks for always having an encouragement to share.
Thank you for reading, Megan!
Lori @ EncourageYourSpouse.com says
Good points- and sooooooooo well illustrated. (sigh) I’m not sassy, but I do take offense easily and then hold onto it. Apparently I’m like my Omi (grandma). My parents used to point it out to me. It’s something I still work on, but fortunately I’m also married to a man who can soften my heart and encourage me to take it to the Lord.
What a blessing a great husband is!
You have such a beautiful way of extracting amazing truths from these teachable moments with your daughters, Becky. I love reading your stories and can remember the days of tantrums from my own three sons. Hmmm, wonder where they learned that? 😉 I’m like you, Becky, not always the greatest example, but I hope, that like you, I’m learning and growing. Love your humble vulnerability, friend!
Beth, you are so kind and encouraging and I truly appreciate your stops here each week. Learning and growing, yes. I will never pretend to be glossy and perfect. Often our real growing happens in the ugly stuff, yes? And that is why your blog is so meaningfully titled – Messy Marriage indeed!
This sounds like me and my middle child. We both get cranky and irritable at the end of the day.
Yeah, that’s exactly what was wrong with today. . .me. And you quoted a verse that I had somehow forgotten. Thanks for the reminder!
Ouch. It’s so hard to admit, but everything that bugs me about my kids they get from me. LOL Great post!
Shannon Conner says
You write very descriptively and with lots of imagery. I loved reading your post. I’m sure you and your little one will keep each other on the right path.
Visiting through Imparting Grace,
Laura Boggess says
Smiling, Becky. Take that, you old nasty dinosaur.