Today I yelled at my kids. I know, stop the presses. But, truthfully, I don’t usually give in to my anger the way I did today. This morning, however, was different. In my defense, the kids have been fighting with one another for days now and, whereas earlier I seemed to be able to tune it out with maybe a cursory hey-stop-that-we-don’t-do-that-in-this-house, suddenly I couldn’t. The fighting had reached critical mass, and I blew a fuse.
I am a classically trained soprano and I used this to my advantage today. I took a deep breath and straightened my spine. I focused on my diaphragm and proceeded to sound forth a yell whose timbre frightened even me. My words sounded like a Martin Luther King, Jr. speech, all full of high-minded one-liners, the pitches of my monologue ebbing and flowing like an ocean tide. But that timbre! Now that was something.
When it was all over I sent my two extremely naughty sons to their beds to “think about what I said.” My rather smug daughter, who was riding high on the fact that she’d dodged a bullet, played quietly in her room. Never is that girl so prim as when she’s not in trouble and her brothers are.
Eventually I made my way upstairs to the boys’ room to give them a you’ve-served-your-time-and-are-now-on-parole speech. They lay in their beds, sullen and slightly sorry-looking. I told them how it was not OK to punch each other in the kidneys and call one another names like Poop Head and Your Highness just so they could let off steam.
“Just because you’re angry and you’ve had it up to here does not give you the right to give your brother the once-over, do you understand? That’s not how we’re called to live. Love is patient, love is…kind…” My voice trailed off because what I heard in my head, so loudly I was almost sure my boys could hear it too, was And what did you just do to them? Were you patient? Were you kind?
So this morning began with speeches and lectures and yelling and fighting. But it ended with apologies, forgiveness, and a large helping of humble pie.