Sunday, May 12, 2013
I was in the bathroom with my two daughters, and we were "doing nails". I finished my younger daughter's toes, and then went to pick up the bottle of hot pink nail polish that my older daughter had picked out for her fingers. Of course, she hadn't told me that she had already unscrewed the cap, so when I picked it up by the lid, the bottle went crashing to the floor and hot pink nail polish went flying (and I mean flying) all over the linoleum tile and cabinets (I'm still thanking God it missed my new white rugs. White? Really?? What was I thinking??). It was the end of a very long day, and that was the last straw. I started to lose it. At that moment, when every curse word known to man was running through my mind and I started scolding my daughter for unscrewing the cap, my two-year-old said, "I'M WATCHING YOU!". She said it in a sing-song voice that was reminiscent of something you would see in a Stephen King movie, but I don't think that's what stopped me dead in my tracks: It was the fact that, in that instant, I realized that she was watching ME. She was watching MY reaction in that situation. In fact, she was watching every one of my reactions in every situation throughout every day. The weight of the thought certainly took the wind out of my sails.
I still have no idea why she said it, or what she even meant by the comment. I half want to think it was the Holy Spirit warning me through her - because not only was she watching my every move, but so was God. My reaction to the nail polish debacle was not a graceful one, as it should have been. My immediate thought was not to extend mercy; it was to punish. The nail polish was only another mess in the string of messes that I clean up on any given day, and nothing was stained permanently, so I really didn't have anything to be upset about. Just the fact that I had to clean up another mess when I had a whole laundry list of other things to do to get everyone ready for bed was what upset me. I could make excuses all day long to justify my reaction in this situation, (or any similar situation, for that matter,) but it doesn't change the fact that I was wrong. I reacted incorrectly, and my daughter called me out on it. My two-year-old knew my response was not what it should have been, because I take time to try and correct her behaviour when it is out of line. Obviously, she was returning the favor!
As mothers, we don't only teach our children their ABC's, how to have good manners, and how to tie their shoes or clean up after themselves. We teach them - by our own actions and reactions - how to act and react to stressful, upsetting, frustrating situations. For example, if I yell and scold and punish every time someone makes a mess or breaks something, I'm going to send the message to my kids that that's the normal way to respond to a mess or a broken item. In that case, I would also be sending the message that the floor or broken object is more important to me than the person who made the mess or caused the breakage in the first place. I would be placing undue significance on objects rather than my precious children, and years of that kind of behavior could certainly have a negative impact on their fragile psyches. Now, don't get me wrong, obviously there are times when scolding or punishment might absolutely be necessary, but nail polish on the floor when it wasn't even her fault in the first place? Ah, no. My linoleum tile and cabinets are not worth wounding my little girl's spirit. Join with me this week after Mother's Day in making an effort to be aware of the words you are speaking to your kids each day and the tones you are using when you speak them. Let us be women who speak life - who speak with wisdom and have faithful instruction on our tongues (Proverbs 31:26, paraphrased).