“I did something this morning that most of you will probably think is bad parenting.
Because my mom stayed the night at the house, I had the opportunity to take my 8-year-old to school without her siblings. I whispered to her, ‘If we get ready quick and with a good attitude, we’ll stop at the donut shop.’
But as she got dressed, her shirt didn’t fit right. Her pants annoyed her. The house was too cold. Her hair hurt when it was combed.
She started to get angry. Even when I reminded her she was risking losing her donut she kept getting angrier and angrier. Then it just unraveled and, ‘THIS WAS THE WORST MORNING OF HER LIIIIIIFE!’
I had to pause. I didn’t understand. I tried to reason. Then I said, ‘NO DONUT!’
In the next 10 minutes, as I silently got my coffee and found my own clothes, I saw myself in my daughter’s actions.
I too have sensory overload. Static? My arch nemesis. Tight fitting clothes? Shoot me. Bloated and my waistband is digging into my stomach? WORST DAY EVER!
I’m almost 37 years into this game and I’ve learned ways to cope (usually).
I also know I too have had anger run away from me. As an adult I’ve said in my head, ‘Stop acting this way, Mary,’ while unable to get in front of the anger that snowballed ahead of me.
So when we got in the car (after she slammed the door and snarled) I said the following…
‘The way you’ve treated me this morning is mean, unfair, and not okay, but I’ve been there too. When I was growing up, if we spoke like that to our parents it was met with more anger, punishment, loss, and sometimes hostility. I think I just needed someone to be nice to me.
So, even though you’ve been mean to me, I’m going to be nice to you. I’m going to take you for that donut. I love you very much, even when you have big emotions.’
She burst into tears. I felt the anger move over and make way for the sadness. Then she said, ‘I’m so sorry I was mean to you,’ and we got our donut.
As she walked into school with a smile on her face, I thought, ‘This seems right.’
I want to do more of this. I want to be nice to my kids even on hard days. Maybe, just maybe, kindness will beget kindness.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mary Duke of My Sunshine Birth Services. You can follow her on Facebook, where this story originally appeared. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.
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