Mondays always dawn early at my house- 5 am, to be precise. Now , I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am more of a night owl and definitely not a morning person. I can stay awake past midnight, working on articles, cleaning up around the house, paying bills online and watching some TV to unwind. However, I have to drag myself out of bed every morning when that alarm goes off.
This got me thinking:
if a 30- something woman has to struggle to wake up early, how much more challenging is it for a child? As I walked into Gy’s room to get her out of bed, I changed gears on two things that I normally do: what to say in order to wake her up and how I would react in response to her staying in bed.
What I would have said before my challenge began:
“Gy, wake up! It’s time to go to school! You will miss the bus! All your friends would have left and you will have to go by the seniors’ bus!” (all said in a slightly elevated voice)
!!Get up!! This is the second time I am calling you and you are still asleep!! (this time, the decibel level has gone up, indicating irritation but it hasn’t reached yelling point)
“You’re not awake?!! Fine, you can miss the bus and sleep the whole day. I warned you about sleeping early last night. I won’t drop you to school if you miss the bus!” ( And, there you have it: the pounding anger, the clenched teeth and yes, the screaming!)
Now, after three days of no yelling, here is- What I did say:
“Gy, please wake up. It is time to get ready. If you sleep any longer, you will have to go by the seniors’ bus.” (uttered throughout in a normal tone, which is something I found very very challenging thanks to my year-long habit of yelling! )
“Kanna, if you don’t wake up, the bus will leave. Please get up.” ( I said this a few minutes later, ensuring that my voice stayed normal, while all the time, my mind was frantically working out how many minutes remained before we left for the bus stop).
And , HERE lies the twist as promised: Gy, all sleepy-eyed and groggy, threw off the covers, stayed supine and yelled, ‘ Don’t keep saying that. I WILL NOT go by the seniors’ bus.’
This reaction took me completely by surprise! For one thing, SHE was doing the yelling, not me. So, how did I react?
How I would have reacted before the challenge:
Oh, that one’s easy! I would have yelled right back at her, asked her to stop shouting, marched in there, pulled the bed covers off her and stood over her glowering, while she meekly crawled out of bed to brush her teeth. My blood would have boiled, my head would have hurt from the effort and I wouldn’t have been able to look her in the eye, for fear that I would yell again.
How I did react:
This morning, I stood there for a few seconds after she had yelled at me, then turned around and walked out of the room. I did not say anything else, not even a reminder that she was running out of time.
In two minutes, she walked out of her room, made her way to the washroom, freshened up and came to the breakfast table, where I had kept her milk ready. I handed it to her without a word and went back to the kitchen. She looked at the milk, took a few sips and then cleared her throat.
‘Amma, I am sorry I shouted at you that way. You know I was very sleepy and that was why I did it, right?’
My heart swelled with so much love and understanding that I nodded and beamed at her.
Yet again, she had figured out the reason herself, without my having said a single word of reproach or reprimand. And, for a 6-year-old to do that, it is truly commendable. It must be so hard for us to change habits that have become a part of our psyche, but it isn’t impossible to weed out the negatives.
Here is hoping I finish out the week and continue the ‘yelling less’ goal and perhaps extend it beyond the week too.
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