I had a wonderful Ah-Ha moment this morning. My 3 yr old daughter, Ella, was making laps around the kitchen table as I was trying to make their breakfast. She was getting faster and faster and then added a tweak on her brothers back as she passed him. Basically, she was in a big ole race with herself to see how quickly she could get him to wallop her one. As my hands were filled with cinnamon and sugar, I called out to her (calmly) to stop. She didn't stop and even flew right passed me as if she didn't hear me. Instinctively, I louder said, "Ella, STOP." Again, she flew passed the counter in front of me. AGAIN, I said, "ELLA STOP!!!!" This time my voice was raised and my frustration was showing plainly now. That is when the Ah-Ha moment happened. I immediately pictured a scene from my past.
When Nathan was a teenager, he worked for Kroger. He had a deaf friend that worked there too named Janine. One particular supervisor never seemed to get that Janine was deaf and couldn't hear her. She KNEW she was deaf, but somehow, she always seemed to think that if she spoke loudly enough, Janine would understand her. Repeatedly, she would stand there waving her hands in the air, screaming her directions to Janine as if Janine would get it one day. It was funny to watch and even Janine got a kick out of it, because she could obviously tell that this lady was really trying hard to make Janine HEAR her.
It dawned on me that this is EXACTLY what I am doing when I raise my voice with my kids. They aren't deaf to the sound of my voice, but it isn't the HEARING of me that I am trying to get across to them. It is the UNDERSTANDING of complete obedience that they are deaf to. They are children who need to be TAUGHT these things. Ella, at 3, is trying to figure things out and I need to teach her what she doesn't yet completely understand in a way that communicates this knowledge; that ignoring Mama and breaking the rules of the house have consequences. Getting louder and frustrated with her probably looks to her a lot like this manager looked to Janine; silly, unnecessary, and still not accomplishing the goal of communication at all.
On a lighter note~
I had a wonderful time this evening on the floor with my two youngest girls (3 & 11 mos). Ella was "teaching Annagail to dance" and Annagail (who is just starting to cruise holding the furniture) took her first solo steps with the walker at her sister's encouragement. It was so cute. Ella would dance and Annagail would clap. Then Annagail would try to take a step or two and Ella would cheer her on. Ella looked at me at one point with an almost look of desperation and said, "Mama, I need to hold that girl!", as if she was just going to bust if she didn't. I put Annagail in her lap and, for the split second that Annagail allowed her fanny to be idle there, Ella BEAMED. It was absolutely PRECIOUS.