Tuesday, April 14, 2015


I yelled at Nick tonight. Is it a requirement that we have to yell at our children to do their minimal chores? Is it impossible to get a kid to clean up after he makes a mess without yelling? Do I have to yell once for each and every piece of garbage, fork, plate, mug, and errant bit of food?

I ask you. I really want to know.

My sister is very sweet and she said she yells at her kids. One of my friends tell me she has to bring the hammer down, and by that I'm assuming that she yells. I hope that's what she means and since her boy isn't walking around with great bruises, I would guess I'm right. This is a kid who wears shorts all the time, who likes to peel his shirt off when they're playing Minecraft for too long, so I'd probably see if he were blue or green instead of pink. Yes, I'm sure that's what she means. Still, it's not the predominate message I hear when I'm talking to other moms.

It is exhausting, pretending that I don't yell. I read an article a long time ago, one that has stayed with me for years, that if you have to yell, you're doing it wrong. Was the author a human being? It said that you should set up consequences that are immediate so that kids never get you to the point of yelling or repeating yourself.


I wonder if the author of that article knows just how much angst he or she created with that pious message over the fourteen years I've been trying to be a mom. I tried to put it out of my mind. I did. But there's the subtext that if I resort to yelling, I'm not a very good parent, that I could actually be like the mom on the PBS show 'Little Bill.' Where is Little Bill now, huh? I ask you.

But the message from that article has stuck in my craw. There isn't anyone out there saying that it's horseshit. The resounding implication is that I can be the perfect parent if I try hard enough. I try not to yell. I do. I really do. 

I've managed it sometimes, but asking nicely doesn't work, not even asking nicely four or five or even six times over a period of three or four days. Taking away his allowance hasn't worked. Taking away TV pisses him off, but doesn't always get him going. The absolutely most effective tool in my arsenal is to say, in a loud voice, "Do it! Do it now!"

Oh, I don't call him names. I try not to make him feel stupid, though 'rocket science' spills out of my mouth on occasion. I try not to say 'rocket science,' but sometimes it spooges out anyway. I tried crying. Okay, I wasn't acting. I really was overwhelmed that day a week after I tore my rotator cuff and everything I needed to do was piling up and the tears came out and it worked, but it doesn't work all of the time because 1) I am a terrible actor, and 2) that shit gets old. Did you ever sit with that girl who was dumped eight months ago and she's still crying about her ex-boyfriend's loser ass? I don't want to be that girl. I can't be that girl. I'm too pissy to be that girl.

So, I yell at my son. Most of the time, I wish I could hide it, but I find it acceptable anyway except when I really hurt his feelings. I don't like when I really hurt his feelings. And then there are times when I hear him yelling at his dad, "Do it! Do it now!" And then he sounds just like me except he's more intimidating, and has a lower voice. And it's mortifying.

Maybe the person who wrote that article about how we all just need to be nice was right. If I could just be that perfect mom.

Thank you for listening, jb

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