That’s what SJ and I have been calling each other for the last few days. Actually, he came up with the name. I like it. So, I’ve been repeating it.
SJ & Me: Mattress Buddies
Last week, I had an idea. I asked SJ if he wanted to have a campout. We would blow up the inflatable mattress and put it in the basement. I knew he would enjoy this.
SJ had asked many times if he could play on the mattress. And no matter how nicely he asked, he got the same answer. NO!
He said he would sleep later if someone else was in the bed. I wonder if this need will lead to issues when he reaches his upper teens. Great. Another worry.
Anyway, the blowup mattress had many benefits. SJ would be happy and my wife would have a shot at sleeping later. Thinking of others – aren’t I swell!
SJ filling up the mattress
However, I haven’t told you the whole story.
I’ve been yelling at SJ – a lot. He’s darn cute and can be very funny and sweet, but he pushes my buttons – even more than his brother.
After a day of school and talking to kids who don’t listen, are rude, and act disrespectfully, I am out of patience. I come home and want my children to behave. The last thing I want is more issues with kids.
So, I end up yelling.
I try to console myself. I play, read, talk, and do homework with my children. I am an active and engaged father. Anyway, everyone yells and gets frustrated. That’s life.
I know that’s true. But, something has been nagging at me. I know there has been too much yelling lately.
I raise my voice or make a sudden movement, and my kids flinch. And it makes me feel like shit! Am I so terrible? Such a beast?
I told my wife, and she said the boys are skiddish. I agree 100%. But still, they flinch. My own kids. It’s not like I beat them or am some raging lunatic. I feel like crap.
A fellow blogger, Penny at Authentic Life Journeys, wrote about her issues with yelling at her son. We have been following each other’s blogs for a while. So, I emailed her about the yelling thing.
After our conversation, I decided to sit down and talk to SJ about the yelling. I was nervous. I didn’t know how to approach him. After all, he is seven and happy-go-lucky. Could he talk about something serious?
I was also embarrassed.
Well, we spoke for a while and hugged each other at the end. I promised him that I would try and do better. He promised he would try to be more understanding and not push.
That was a month ago, and we have had discussions on the Sundays since.
“I think it was a little better,” he told me during our first follow-up meeting.
“Really, that’s it? Only a little?” I couldn’t hide my disappointment. That week, I tried to be extra patient and not yell. While I knew there were slip-ups, I thought the improvement was significant.
I would have to do better.
SJ and I have now had four such meetings. We talk privately about how we think the week went and how we communicated (obviously not his word). One week he told me it was good, but we needed to talk more.
It wasn’t enough to just not yell. SJ wanted us to spend time together, and he felt comfortable saying that to me. This was progress.
Last week, SJ told me it was a good week. We talked and I was mostly patient. It was the happiest I ever felt after receiving a progress report.
Yelling happens. I am not proud of it. I know that there are better ways to express anger, frustration, and disappointment. I’m doing better. And I am determined to keep striving.
I am already seeing the benefits of my reduced yelling. SJ and I are in a better place.
I’m ecstatic to have my mattress buddy.
My Mattress Buddy