Monday, April 2, 2007

Two Mistakes

Yesterday afternoon I was in my son's bedroom trying to assemble a race track that he received for his birthday, and I could hear my children in the living room giggling and laughing. I was so pleased that they were playing well together and not screaming out the usual, "stop it" or "give it back!" Then the bottom fell out: I heard a bloodcurdling scream from my daughter and then total silence. I bolted down the hall to the scene of the crime to find my son nowhere in sight and my daughter crouched on the floor holding her face unable to catch her breath from the pain. Then came the inevitable intake of air and the second, much louder scream which didn't stop for several minutes.

I yelled for Nathan to get his behind in the living room so I could interrogate him. His friend Kaben was sitting in the recliner saying, "I was just sitting here watching TV!" Nathan comes slurking around the corner from the dining room with the look of a deer caught in the headlights. I demanded to know what happened (although I had a pretty good idea already), and waited for a response. Nathan immediately begin to blame Grace. "She started it....she was chasing me!" This whole time I'm holding Grace in my arms trying to ascertain if she has any broken facial bones as she is screaming and holding her head. I grabbed Nathan by the arm (more roughly than I intended) and put him on the couch. I carried Gracie to the kitchen so I can sit her down and get good look at her face, all the while yelling at Nathan for once again disobeying the "no running in the house" rule. I was so angry at him and scared for Grace that I couldn't even think straight. I sent him to his bedroom with instructions to stay there because I didn't even want to look at his face. (I'm sure there is a list in a parenting book somewhere of things not to say to your kids, and many of the things I said in that 5 minute span were probably on it.)

Once I saw that Grace was fine aside from the promise of a black eye in a few days, I calmed down enough to go back into the living room to ask Kaben what exactly happened. He was still sitting quietly in the chair (probably hoping to avoid the attention of the crazy lady who just screamed at his friend). He told me that Nathan and Grace were running around and she lost her balance and fell face first onto the brick hearth of the fireplace. This was what I figured had happened, but I was glad that Kaben had seen it so I knew for sure. I called Nathan back into the living room and informed him that he was grounded from the computer for an entire week for disobeying us and breaking rules.

As I sat there holding Grace with an ice pack on her face, I looked at Nathan and how little he was and I was overcome with remorse for yelling at him like I did. I called him over to me and held him for a second and apologized for the way I grabbed his arm and for yelling at him. He had made a mistake in judgement, but so had I. His mistake caused physical injury to his baby sister that would heal with a little time and TLC. My mistake could have caused emotional injury to my son and that I can't bear. I need to learn to count to ten before I react to high stress situations. I need to make sure that the things I say to my children are not hurtful and demeaning because the words cannot be taken back by an apology.

Lord, guard my tongue and my actions so that my children will never see me as an tyrant. Keep me calm, cool and collected the next time something unexpected happens so that You will be in control next time, and not me.

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