I am standing at the bottom of the steps shouting at the top of my lungs to my children who are upstairs in their rooms, hoping they can hear me over the sound of their own bickering. They can not. I yell louder. And suddenly, it occurs to me that even I don’t want to hear what I’m saying.
Yelling at them isn’t helping them hear me. And really, all I want them to do is come downstairs and get their lunch bags packed into their back packs so they can leave for school. And I want them to stop shouting at each other. The irony is not lost on me that I am attempting to convey this message–Do Not Shout At Each Other–at top volume. Modeling the behavior I want to see, I am not.
A deep breath. A sip of coffee.
I walk up the stairs. I deliver my message calmly and quietly, like a grown-up who knows what she’s doing. A grown-up who is in charge of the situation and knows her children will obey her without question because she is confident and clear in her directions.
And, remarkably, it works. Within minutes, they are standing at the door, bags fully packed, voices at a reasonable level, discussing whether they might play outside together after school or if rain may force them into the playroom downstairs. Kisses are given, good-byes are said, and off they walk down the driveway to school.
And I am left standing there, shaking my head and drinking my coffee, wondering how many times I’ve shouted myself hoarse for nothing. Not just literally, in dealing with my kids, but figuratively–how many times have I shouted a message that could–should–have been whispered?
We all think I am the one teaching them, when in reality, the reverse is often the truth.