I am always tempted to sum things up by saying: I had a good day today. Or today totally sucked. But the fact is we really don't live in a world like that.
A bunch of good things happened today: beautiful day outside, spent much of it on my deck with a neighbor and friend while our children played together. Took pictures of the kids and my friend (although next time I might shoot pictures of her when she is not chewing on a scone).
My voice still hurts from yelling (and not in my loud teacher voice, but in a raw screaming kind of way that will inevitably result in nodules on my vocal chords if I keep it up) when "rough-housing" turned inevitably violent and real tears were shed. Because nothing is more soothing when you are hurt then having a parent using their scary voice.
This morning, if you asked me while I was drinking tea and eating scones I would have identified this as a good day. This afternoon when my nerves were shattered by the intensity of my children's play and the strength of my own reaction I would have said this was a crappy day. And I still feel kind of crappy.
Yelling is bad.
If I am upset enough that I am yelling, not just consciously raising my voice to be heard, then I am super stressed. And it takes a long time for me to recover physically from that. And I really don't have the option of just checking out and lying flat on the ground most of the time. I have to be calm and rational and follow through with reasonable consequences.
Yelling is bad even if I am not the one doing the yelling. Anyone yelling and I get uber-stressed.
I did not grow up in a family of yellers. I grew up in a family where we could tell someone was mad by the sound of their breathing. Loud breathing meant you were in big, big trouble. Only as an adult did I realize this is not the way typical humans express anger.
Anger is tough. Because I internalized the message (never taught to me, you understand) that expressing anger is bad. And from there generalized to "anger is bad." And it wasn't until I was an adult that I could even realize when I was angry. I misidentified it as "sad."
At first I would realize days later that something had made me angry. Then I learned to recognize it closer and closer to the actual incident. Now I know when I am angry at the time that anger is occurring. But I don't feel like I have any idea of what to do with the energy that comes with that anger. Sad was easier. All the energy went inward.
Now when my children hurt one another the inner monologue is: WHY CAN'T THEY FIGURE OUT HOW TO PLAY WITHOUT DAMAGING ONE ANOTHER!!!! and I am sizzling with unspent energy that comes out in a really loud way.
In the "sad" days here is what I would have heard instead: You have done a very bad job of teaching your children to be kind. You clearly made some huge mistake in their upbringing and now they are ruined. Doomed forever to be evil psychopaths. They will probably end up on America's Most Wanted. and I would have gone away to hide in a corner.
Oh, an interesting point: my friend asked me today if I had ever been evaluated for bipolar. This on the basis of my fanatical devotion to one crafty thing or another. I said, "Nope. I have unipolar depression. I just tend to be a little speedy sometimes."
But I took a bipolar screener just to see. I came out with no indicators of bipolar disorder, which was not a surprise to me.
Grateful Crap: a wonderful neighbor with similar values to bounce ideas off, someone willing to accept help from me-- because it is nice to feel useful and necessary, children who really do enjoy playing together even if they sometimes do it very badly.
Quaker, teacher, parent,