Some families have a chore board or a swear jar -- we have a yelling chart. Two days ago my oldest came downstairs and explained how it worked.
- One block for yelling at someone.
- Only sixteen blocks allowed per day.
- A different colour for each person.
My colour is green and my daughter reminds me, (like I need reminding) that less blocks are better.
"Get your pants on please." I tell my oldest in a neutral tone. I check my watch as time jumps forward by minutes, not seconds on Monday mornings.
"The baby has my book and I want it back!" Clara is fighting with Fiona, her two-year-old sister.
"Leave her, I will get your book, just get your pants on please." My voice escalates in volume and pace.
"No! I don't want her to wreck it! STOP IT! Gimme my book!" They are both holding the book and pulling at its edges.
"Noooooo! Waaaahhhhh -- my book!" The toddler screams this repeatedly. It reminds me of the hand-dryer, blast in public restrooms. Clara stares down the baby. "It's not your book! MOM?"
"I said stop it -- now go get your pants on! I will get the book. Fiona! Give mommy the book!" My toddler is like a little raccoon that looks friendly until you try to take away her treasure and then she hisses and cries and paws you with her sticky digits.
"NOOOOOOOO -- my book!" She sprints down the hall, book-in-hand towards the stairs. Clara is steaming.
"MOM! That's my book -- I hate her!" Clara runs after her and I can only see disaster as they both approach the stairs.
"CLARA STOP! I WILL GET IT! She's not going to wreck it -- NOW GET YOUR PANTS ON!" I'm screaming as I look back at Clara and chase Fiona down the stairs.
"Wahahhhhhaaaaaaaaa" Fiona skids down the stairs clutching the coveted book.
"Fiona stop! Give mommy the book NOW!" I don't even try to negotiate as I grab it from her and toss it on the top of the fridge.
"NOOOO -- Moooommmmmeeeeee! My book, my book my book!"
"CLARA GET DOWN HERE. FIONA GET YOUR SOCKS ON! ELLIE? WHERE ARE YOU?"
I turn around to find Ellie, filling in the yelling chart. She's working hard because tracking our conversation and colouring in the blocks is a big job. Marker lids are flying on and off as each column fills up. My column looks like a sky-high green tower. The mommy-marble shifts.
"ENOUGH WITH THE YELLING CHART! My eyes pierce her as I dare her to fill in one more block under the MOMMY column.
"Get your jacket on! Where's your backpack?" I stare into the void and let loose, "ARRRRRRRRRGGHH"
The chart sits there stubbornly with angry scribbles of colour. I take a deep breath and drop my hands to my side. I feel deflated.
"I'm sorry girls. I don't like the yelling chart. Sometimes, I don't know how else to get my point across after I have asked you three times to do something. It's just, the chart isn't working for me. Group hug?" No one budges. I shrug. They glare.
I turn away to finish making lunches. I know my mothering isn't prefect but I'm not failing either. I'm trying. Some days I have the most blocks on the yelling chart but some days I win the best mommy ribbon or even the greatest hug trophy. Not everyday will suck and I'm not going to beat myself up for the days that do.
Screw you yelling chart and good parenting techniques, this mommy's going to have a chocolate muffin and a coffee.