Thursday, April 10, 2014

she cut her hair, and i lost it (or, how to transform regretful behavior and teach your kids a bigger lesson).

I had left the scissors on my bathroom counter as I went to the kitchen to call the beauty shop. I had offered to trim my eldest's hair, but she decided she wanted to go to the shop instead. I called and got an appointment, and as I hung up the phone, my four-year-old was standing in front of me with hair in her hands. I was immediately filled with dread. As she looked up at me, I noticed she had cut the side of her hair... the back... and the top.... and instead of staying calm, and using all the knowledge I've gleaned from the parenting books I've read, I might have overreacted.

I don't remember exactly what I said, but it was something to the effect of... 
"What did you do?! You cut off all your beautiful curls! Your hair looks terrible now! Why would you do that?! Uggggh! I can't believe you would do that! You know better! You look awful! Oh, I am just so mad right now that I could spank you! (I didn't.) Go to your room until I calm down!"
It's hard to even type all of that. It was an epic parenting failure. She ran to her room and slammed the door, crying. When I walked back to my bathroom, there was (what seemed like) a giant pile of hair on the counter. This only made me mad all over again, and I walked into her bedroom, and basically said the same things a second time. When I left her room, she slammed the door again, locked it, and proceeded to throw herself on her bed, crying loudly. 

About 2.5 seconds later, I regretted what I had said. The parent I want to be would not have overreacted like that. She would not have yelled, would not have placed so much emphasis on something that will grow back, and most certainly would not have equated hair with beauty or value. However, instead of making myself suffer in regret, I realized that I was also being handed a perfect opportunity to parent consciously and authentically. I could keep my pride and "teach her a lesson," or I could humbly admit I was wrong, ask for forgiveness, and teach her a lesson in compassion, love, and connection. I chose the latter.

Before I approached her again, I gave her a few more minutes to calm down. She emerged from her room, carrying a yellow piece of paper and asked to talk to me. We sat on my bed and she showed me the "sorry letter" she'd written. There was a sad, crying face on the top and scribbling underneath where she had "written" her apology. She cried as she read it to me, and I could hardly keep from crying myself. 

I told her that she had nothing to be sorry for. I had left out the scissors without telling her not to touch them. I told her that I had behaved badly, and had said many rude and hurtful things to her. I took her head in my hands and told her that she looked just as beautiful as ever because her hair was not important - her hair would grow back - and that she was an amazing, beautiful kid who I loved simply for being born into this life with me. Tears filled her eyes, and mine, as she said, "That means so much to me, Mom. Thank you. I love you."

The moments leading up to that "I love you," were not my some of my proudest. If I had it to do over again, I would have reacted in a completely different way. However, my imperfect reaction opened the door for me to become a little bit more like the parent - no, the person - I aspire to be. 

We will always do things we regret. We're human. But we don't have to live in that regret. Our regret can be the light that shines on our opportunity to make a different choice, to become more authentic, and to teach our kids a lesson much more important than, "Don't touch the scissors." 

1 comment:

  1. Oh Kimberly! Much love coming your way. You are a wonderful parent and person.