Friday, May 13, 2011

No Matter What

Allow me to explain.

It happened like so many times before: from afar I heard the sound from my youngest that tells me she's been physically assaulted by my oldest. It's a specific sound, and way too familiar. My temper flares as soon as that sound hits my ears. Every time.

This time, though, I make my way to the scene to find my little one shrieking about injustice, but the offender is nowhere to be seen. My temper rises, and I search, calling. No sign, no answer when I call her name. I am nothing short of livid at this point, clinching my jaw and muttering, rehearsing the words I'm going to scream at her once I find where she's hiding. They go something like, "I don't care what she did, YOU CANNOT HIT HER!" and "I KNOW you know better than that because it seems I have to tell you this every single day!!" and "God #@*&it, child, you best answer me when I call you!!!!"

It's clear why she's hiding, I realize, as she sheepishly rises up from behind a rock outside our front door. My purple face tells her all she needs to know, but I manage to responsibly suggest that she stay at least an arm's length away from me while I deliver the verbal onslaught. (It's no wonder to me why she has trouble controlling her temper, by the way.)

She wisely spent a whole bunch of time in her room before she tried to make her testimony. We were all much calmer and more rational at this point, though my anti-violence lecture still lasted about ten minutes.

"Maybe if I wrote it down, it would help me remember," she suggested. "Perfect," I say, having forgotten the brilliance of assigning sentences as punishment. It's writing practice and discipline all in one!

I line the paper and explain that these sentences are to be done in her very neatest handwriting or she'll have to start all over, that she's still in trouble and the words on the page are meant to sink deep into her head, and so on. She says, "I get it, mom, you can go now." Another wise move.

The above picture is what I found when I checked in on her about five minutes later.

A little dismayed, I ask why her letters go all crooked at the end of each sentence, and she answers, "Because it says, 'I will not hit my sister, no matter what.' You know, like you say when you really mean it."

It's italics!! She wrote the emphasis words in italics.

And just like magic, I'm not mad anymore.