Recently my family started using the phrase “I’m yelling because…” when things get loud.
It started as a simple experiment. We were (and are) working on tone of voice issues.
Me: Son, you need to apologize for hitting your brother.
Son: I’M SORRY!!!!!!!!!
Me: Saying you are sorry doesn’t count if you yell it in a hateful angry voice.
Honestly, I don’t know where the idea came from. It was just one of those ideas that popped in my head randomly. So I went with it. I suspect it’s on Pinterest somewhere.
It’s been powerful. And hard. And humbling. And gut-wrenching.
It has made a difference.
I yell a LOT less than I did a week ago. After about the third time I had to explain that I was yelling because the television was turned up too loud, we figured some things out. The kids have learned to pause the TV or use the mute button or – at the very least – turn the thing down.
My kids are learning the difference between when I’m merely being LOUD versus when I’m am screaming out of frustration or anger. We’ve all learned that we can stop being LOUD by walking into the room and having face to face conversations.
I’m learning to be a better mom.
I started writing it all down. It’s easier to see what is going on when I have to put it all into writing. Seeing it stare back up at me in black and white makes it hard to ignore.
I have a yelling journal.
For over a week now, I’ve had to live with a particularly ugly little entry.
Me: Watty! Are you up yet?
Me: Get up!
A few minutes pass…
Me: Watty, I don’t hear you. Are you up now?
Me: GET THE FLIP UP OUT OF BED! RIGHT THIS MINUTE YOUNG MAN! DON’T MAKE ME COME IN THERE!
Feet hit the floor. But the look on his face told me that I’d hurt his feelings. He didn’t like starting the day with my drill sergeant routine, and I can’t say I blame him.
After this exchange, my husband wordlessly hands me my “I’m yelling because” journal.
Here’s what I wrote: “I’m yelling for you to get out of bed because I’m too lazy to get out of bed and manage it any other way.”
Yeah. I was still curled up in bed, checking emails and such. Nice.
Then we went to church.
I felt like a fraud.
Once again, I was thankful that God is the God of new beginnings. I was thankful for Grace. I certainly needed it that morning.
I hate my yelling journal.
The kids just have to tell me why they are yelling. I jot it down for them if I can manage. It has the usual kid stuff. They yell without thinking. They yell as a reaction to any strong emotion. They yell because they are boys, because the sky is blue, because their team scored a point, because they saw a cat….
Sometimes they tell me things I don’t want to hear. They yell because I yell.
I’m trying to decide if I want my kids to have to write in the journal for themselves. I suspect we’re headed there.
As I work to decode my family’s yelling habit, we are becoming a calmer, quieter family. That’s good, it was the goal.
I just never expected it to be so hard.
I invite you to join me.
Grab an old notebook. Ours is in one of those cheap black and white composition books. It had been used for something else, so the first few pages are ripped out.
I took a big sharpie marker and wrote “I’m yelling because” on the first page.
I stuck it next to the refrigerator with a pen next to it.
This isn’t fancy. It’s not a scrapbook. It’s certainly not something I want to archive! I don’t think it needs to be done in a cute printable.
It’s a tool.
Just a notebook, a pen, and an intent. That’s all you need.