It was one of those mornings where half the crew woke up on the wrong side and the other half woke up with the Devil in their shorts.
Everyone was in the middle of the morning shuffle of bowls, spoons, milk and cereal when a grand debate arose as to who was going to look at the back of the cereal box. As you can imagine, four children crowded around a cereal box never works out well. And this particular morning, no one was willing to share such valuable real estate.
I reasoned. I suggested. I offered compromises.
Still the debate continued, but it wasn’t a debate that you might see during a Presidential debate, no, it had a lot more whining, yelling and grabbing.
I yelled for children to stop, but I was obviously just doing lung expansion exercises.
I grabbed the coveted Cheerios box, turned and, with a move that would rival a major league pitching team, threw a line drive into the kitchen. The box slammed into the cabinet. We all heard Cheerios ricochet around the kitchen.
“NO ONE IS LOOKING AT THE BOX”!
Everyone stopped and stared at their wild, panting mother, then began to eat in silence.
Basically, I displayed for my children exactly how NOT to handle conflict.
I took a deep breath and knew I must eat humble pie. Somehow the older my children get, the harder it is for me to look them in the eye and apologize.
“Guys, I’m sorry I just acted like that. I should never have thrown the box of cereal. Do you forgive me for acting out of control”? I had to bite my lip not to add my usual manipulative stab, ‘but if you had just obeyed me, I would’ve never done that…’
And to make sure to teach my children that they are not responsible for someone else’s behavior or emotions, I added, “It’s your fault that I threw the box, it’s mine”.
As I began to sweep up half a box of Cheerios, they all jumped up to help clean. I thanked them for their thoughtfulness, but to continue to reinforce that they’re not responsible, I cleaned them up by myself.