Monday, January 19, 2009

Just Another Tool in the Parenting Toolbox

I call it my Primal Scream. I use it in those moments at home when I realize that my stress and frustration have reached a level where I cannot react appropriately to the situation I'm in, but I don't have the freedom to give myself a time-out. Some of my Hope friends may have seen a demonstration of it in a skit I did last spring with Amanda Barwise, although that was a mild version, to say the least.

It's a gut-blowing, all-out scream at the top of my lungs: "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" -- feet pounding the ground, fists flailing in the air and my head shaking back and forth sufficient to break my neck. It lasts as long as my breath holds out and usually ends with a few exclamation points, as delineated above.

Its effect is trifold. One, it wears me out (and often damages my vocal chords temporarily, but that's neither here nor there). All the pent-up tension gets spent in one fell swoop and I have a few moments -- but only a few -- of serenity in body and brain.

Second, it cracks the girls up. This was a great relief the first time I used it, because I was half-way through the Scream before it occurred to me that this may scare the crap out of them and damage them for life -- Lord knows what I would have thought if my mother had hauled off and bellowed like a madman that way! But when I caught my breath and looked at them through the disheveled hair hanging in my eyes, their little faces were puckered up and red in a desperate effort not to laugh (likely for fear of what effect that would have on the obviously insane person in charge of them at that moment). Only after I sighed deeply and muttered, "Well, that felt good," did they let the laughter burst out.

And third -- which is the purpose of the whole dramatic episode -- the release of tension in all parties involved and the jovial mood thus imparted gives me about thirty choice seconds of calm reasoning time to come up with a quick solution to the immediate problem at hand. And thirty seconds is usually all I get -- once my frustration level has reached the point that a Primal Scream is needed, it is also usually moving on an upward curve at a fast rate and momentum will keep it moving that direction for a little while longer. I have to take advantage of the short-term release on the pressure valve and find some way to steer the direction of the immediate situation into safer waters, before the pressure starts to build again.

And it works. Almost always. But only because it is a method I use very rarely. Obviously, if I shrieked like a maniac every morning, the kids would get bored and the neighbors would be calling the police.

I did learn this morning, however, that it is a tool I need to remember to use on an empty bladder. By the time I reached my final exclamation point, nature called in such a loud and relentless voice that I spent my precious 30 seconds in the bathroom and was, unfortunately, back on the upswing by the time I returned to the schoolroom to my giggling girls.

Eh. It happens. That's why we have a toolbox full of tools, right? Time for Avoidance Technique # 8: "OK, girls -- that's a wrap 'til after lunch."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't it great how our kids help keep us grounded and in the end......normal! Glad to hear I am not the only one with primal screams! Only I have the boys AND Paul laughing at me in the end!