Mazzen was taking a break from playing with blocks in the living room to have a snack. I came back into the living room, and she followed. Paby also came in, and crossed in front of the chair in which I sat, and I heard a loud sound. I looked down, startled, and saw Paby scooping up the blocks that -I assumed- he’d knocked over.
Mazzen told him anxiously, “Paby, I wasn’t done! I want to finish playing when I’m done eating.”
He didn’t respond, grabbed the last block, and began walking away.
I felt frustration rising; he often ignores his siblings, and it is something that irks me. I breathed deeply, and called him back.
“Paby, Mazzen was talking to you.”
“I knooow. I’m putting the blocks up.”
“I want you to put them back.”
He walked away again, not responding.
I became angry. I was tired. Rogue had been cranky since getting home from his granny’s, and was attached to my lap. That always makes me feel more irritable, because I feel less able to physically get up and do what needs to be done when addressing situations.
And so I yelled. I lost my temper, and yelled “Paby, I told you to put the blocks back, and I expect you do do it. Now!”
He came back in with anger on his face.
“No, you’re carrying them away! Put them back where they were, next to your sister on the floor!!”
“They WEREN’T by her! They were in the kitchen!! I was trying to put them back!”
Realization dawned on me then. When I went to the kitchen to get her snack, Mazzen must have brought an armful of blocks with her and set them down to receive her food. Paby found them, and not realizing she was using them, picked them up to put them away. As he passed my chair, he dropped some, which had drawn my attention and Mazzen’s.
He was helping; being responsible. Then, when asked to put them back, he was returning them to the place he found them.
And I was yelling at him for it.
I hung my head in shame.
“Paby…I’m sorry. I didn’t understand, and I jumped to conclusions. Thank you for helping. I was wrong for getting upset; for yelling. ”
Not “it’s okay,” because the way I reacted wasn’t okay. But “okay.” Okay, I accept your apology. Okay, we can move past this.
I looked up at my firstborn, an understanding smile on his face, and saw a look of forgiveness in his eyes. A look of empathy. He’s no stranger to letting frustration control one’s words and actions. And he was choosing grade for me.
Something I should have chosen for him from the beginning.
Always choose grace. Always choose understanding. And when you don’t, when you choose anger and admonishment, always, always choose “I’m sorry.”