Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

An ALL CAPS Family

"Heat of the moment
Curse of the young
Spit out your anger
Don't swallow your tongue..."

–Rush, Stick It Out


Every morning it's the same thing: we have to tell them more than twice. After weekday breakfast and morning homework (yes, we have them do homework in the mornings when they're fresh and the fact that we're all up early every day), then there's free time before school. This includes playing with their toys or a little TV and/or iPad time.

And then it's time for both girls to brush teeth and brush hair and finish getting dressed for school so they can leave on time. Every time it's the same things. We know it. They know it. The things never vary much on a school day.

But every time we have to tell them more than twice.

"Beatrice and Bryce, IT'S TIME TO GO TO SCHOOL! PLEASE GET READY!" calls out the Mama, what I lovingly call my wife, and the one who does most the wrangling. I follow her lead and follow up.

"BRYCE, PUT THE IPAD AWAY AND GET READY!"

"GEESH! I'M DOING IT!"

"BRYCE! NOW!"

"GEESH!"

"BEATRICE, THAT MEANS YOU TOO!"

"I HEARD YOU THE FIRST TIME; I'M DOING IT!"

"THEN DO IT!"

"I AM DOING IT! YOU DON'T HAVE TO TELL ME ALL THE TIME!"

Oh my Beatrice and Bryce, but we do...

And then everyone's done and they're out the door off to school. Our kids may still be a few years from the ALL CAPS teen world, but we're definitely an ALL CAPS family now. Most of us know what that means in the texting and email worlds, that ALL CAPS means yelling, whether in excitement or anger.

We're not really screaming at each other, though, not like you would if the heat of the moment escalated and you're literally mad to a boiling point. No, this is more heat of the moment direct communication, a related segue, something we encourage, just not always the bump in volume. This is the parent and older child dance performed daily, and while we don't want them to unnecessarily talk back, we do want them to speak up.

Internalizing angst, deflecting one's own emotional reaction to everyday situations, and avoiding direct and honest communication are things I had my fill of throughout childhood and young adulthood. Even the early years with Amy before she was the Mama, I would shut down like nuclear reactor melting down at its core, and not talk about what was bothering me. At least not until my foundation cracked with sulfurous radioactivity.

Not at all proud moments in the ALL CAPS emotional rage within affecting the loved ones around me. It took time to unravel from that behavior, but unravel I did.

Today we're direct, open and honest with each other and with our children. And in turn, we encourage our girls to do the same with us and others and not to take things personally and react retaliatory, which isn't easy for kids and adults alike. We create a safe space to talk about anything that needs to be talked about, reflecting on our days each and every day, giving thanks and sharing what we're grateful for, and what we might be angry about.

For us, being an ALL CAPS family means being a vocal interdependent unit of independent beings growing up with each other. Helping each other be better humans in a world where too many reactors are melting down at their cores.

And yet, whether we have to tell them more than twice about doing something or not, we're their parents first and foremost, helping their developing minds and souls grow into something special -- and to get all the friggin' stuff done that needs to get done.

"BRYCE, TURN THE IPAD OFF RIGHT NOW!"

"GEESH! I DID!"

"TURN IT OFF!"

"OKAY, OKAY!"

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