I remember looking at my mom and recognizing the crazy eyes, and I could usually hear when some of the other moms in the neighborhood were pushed past the point of crazy. Whew, some of those moms were really loud. Maybe it was a generational thing, because I haven’t heard moms shouting at their kids from three houses down since I was a child.
When I used to push my mom to the point of crazy eyes, I knew it was only a matter of minutes before my dad was on the phone and I heard the dreaded, “Come talk to your dad about what you did!” from my mom. My sisters and I dreaded talking to our dad on the phone, but now that I’m older, I don’t know why we were so afraid.
My dad was a teddy bear when it came to discipline. He was more into lecturing while throwing in little verbal jabs than butt kicking and spanking. He also liked to load on some extra chores as part of the punishment. But outside the occasional extra chore and the lecture, we didn’t really have any consequences from talking to our dad. But it still scared the hell out of us.
Somehow my dad’s lecturing habit was passed on to me, because I catch myself doing it to Addie all the time and I used to do it to Casey. One time when Casey and I were at a restaurant on a date, she explained to me how scared she used to get when I went into lecture mode. She couldn’t explain why, because she said it certainly wasn’t a fear of being physically assaulted or anything like that. She was just scared of the lecture.
I had no idea lecturing had that effect on her, and it was the first time I recognized that I had become my dad.
Well, now I head off to work and leave my two kids at home with their mom. Occasionally, Casey will call and I can tell from the sound of her voice that she has the same crazy eyes my mom used to have. Now that I’ve been on the other side of that call, I’m sure I dread those calls just as much as my dad did 20 years ago.
Fixing those crazy eyes without destroying the spirit of my kids, mainly Addie, can be tricky. On one hand, I have to take Addie’s misbehavior seriously enough that the crazy eyes aren’t turned on me. Plus, Casey and I have always tried to support each other in our disciplinary decisions so that Addie doesn’t learn to use us against each other.
On the other hand, I have to listen to Addie and be understanding enough so that her spirit isn’t broken. Sometimes Addie and Casey can spend all day together and little bad acts from Addie add up to the point of a huge explosion from Casey. In Addie’s mind whatever she did last was the cause of the explosion and she can’t grasp why such a small thing caused such a big reaction. She doesn’t understand that it was a series of events that led to the explosion.
Sometimes sending Casey into another room and sitting down with Addie and talking about what happened usually resolves the bad feelings between the two, and sometimes the frustration can last for days.
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