How Many Time Do I Have To Tell You

Lessons on Humanity from a Three Six Year Old

As a parent, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said:

“How many times do I have to tell you…”

Six year old Jett was upset because he had to re-do his homework.

“How many time do I have to tell you that if you do it neatly the first time, you won’t have to re-do it.”

Finally, he got so upset that he threw the pencil and eraser off the desk. I sat calmly and said, “I guess that means no iPad.”

This pushed him over the edge. He started screaming. So I sat down at my desk and started reading blogs. He walked over to me and screamed in my face.

“You better back off, because you are getting Daddy angry,” I said in a calm, but firm voice.

“You hurt my feelings,” he screamed.

“How did I hurt your feelings? I didn’t hurt your feelings; I just tried to get you to do your homework.”

“You ignored me,” he screamed.

“I didn’t ignore you. I just walked away when you started screaming.”

“You were rude to me,” the screams were getting louder.

“YOU WERE RUDE to ME. Don’t you understand that screaming in someone’s face is rude?”

“YOU ARE BEING RUDE TO ME RIGHT NOW!” he yelled as he “stood with fists.”

Suddenly, I flashed back to a post that I published less than 24 hours prior to this argument. In the post, I waxed how Jett’s 3 year old brother taught me to “apologize quickly, even if you were not at fault” and “let others know when they have hurt you.”

Jett and Fox with Buddha

My Teachers

Jett was letting me know that I had hurt him, yet I was refusing to apologize. Three year old Fox was taking a bath right next to the office Jett and I were arguing in. I could hear his thoughts, “How many times do I have to tell you to walk the walk, Mr. Talk-the-Talk?”

I grabbed Jett and pressed his heart next to mine. “I’m sorry that I was rude to you. Thank you for telling me how you felt. I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. I’m sorry I ignored you.”

Jett’s body softened like a stuffed animal. I could feel his heart embracing mine.

“Let’s finish this homework, so you can have some iPad time, OK?”

“OK, Daddy.”

Lessons learned:

  • Calm and collected are not the same as caring and attentive
  • If I want my boys to be compassionate, I have to honor their feelings even if I don’t understand or agree with them.
  • We all need to be reminded of lessons over and over
  • Heart to heart is the best medicine/discipline for raising kids

24 comments on “How Many Time Do I Have To Tell You

  1. Anonymous says:

    “Jett’s body softened like a stuffed animal. I could feel his heart embracing mine.” What a beautiful moment between you two. My heart just melted…. Xx k.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Thanks, K. It was a tender moment. So grateful to have participated. The good news is that now that there is a precedent, he will understand what I am doing next time I grab him and pull him close. 🙂 {{{Hugs}}} kozo

  2. NotAPunkRocker says:

    I know you asked the other day what made you learn to be human and it is moments like these: learning from our smaller humans. Kids can be such wise, gentle souls. We just need to listen, which you did. Keep up the great work; kids like yours (and mine) give me hope for the future.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Yay, NPR. Our kids can save the world together. And I know they will not be alone. I really believe that our children have the opportunity to really spread compassion worldwide. So excited. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  3. PigLove says:

    shivers – I’ve heard that same comment over and over here at the Hotel Thompson directed to me. Snorts – great lesson learned. XOXO – Bacon

  4. lauriesnotes says:

    I have been here with my daughter too. She got in trouble at school for the first time and we didn’t know what to do..we ended up hugging like this..So we decided whenever ee don’t know what to is good to hug.
    we had a difficult morning…spilled cat food, changing shoes at the last minute before school..and somehow we got back to calm pretty quick. We keep practicing. 🙂 L

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Yes, Laurie, “we keep practicing.” It is all a process isn’t it? What a wonderful step along the way–hugging. So excited to see how things blossom for all of us. {{{Hugs}}} kozo

  5. diannegray says:

    As parents we learn every day. It’s wonderful how our children are here as our soul mates to test our values, patience and love. Keep talking the talk and walking the walk and you’ll never go wrong 😀 {{{Hugs}}}

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Wise words, my friend. Our children are not ours, they are fellow travelers who just happen to be walking right next to us. Once I recognized this, it was a lot easier to see the lessons. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  6. Robert says:

    I can relate to your story, as an adult I often forget to do things the way others have asked me to do them. My mood leads my reaction to criticism it will be completely accepting and apologetic or argumentative and challenging. There is also the issue of questioning one of my core values of freedom. If the end result achieves the required outcome does it matter how I got there?

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      So true, Robert. Seems like I have been living in deja vu my whole life. I keep having to learn the same lessons over and over. Luckily, I think I’m starting to see the whole curriculum lately. So grateful for the process. {{{Hugs}}} kozo

  7. tw says:

    I believed from my son’s first day in the world that learning how to behave should be encouraged and taught through compassion and understanding. It worked! In almost 21 years there have never been arguments, fights or harsh words, no physical punishments, just acceptance along with the ability to communicate what we think and feel and know we are there for each other. Unconditional love is a miracle worker 🙂

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      You are such an amazing Mom, woman, and spirit, tracy. Thank you for all the compassion you bring into the world through your writing, poetry, son, and life. I love your quote about unconditional love. Did I mention your wisdom? {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  8. vernette says:

    Oh Kozo this was lovely and a reminder that big or small our feelings matter.

  9. KM Huber says:

    As you say, we get to relive some moments over and over yet each time there is a glimmer, our perspective broadens. And now, Jett holds up a mirror for you as well as for the rest of us. These are just priceless posts, Kozo. Your sons will treasure them (and you) for all their lives.

  10. You know, you once said you wished you could be more empathetic. You also said you were blessed to be surrounded by a bunch of empaths on here. & Yet, you are becoming one. 😀
    You really are! You picked up his vibe and changed your attitude instantly because you sensed how he was feeling. You’ve made tremendous, tremendous growth, my dear friend. You’re better for it, and so is your family and everyone you love. *hugs*

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      That means so much to me, J. I just had this experience again last night. My son was sucking snots down his throat. I told him to blow his nose. Then I realized that he must have been really uncomfortable to have been woken up in the middle of the night with a stuffy nose, so I was much more gentle with him.
      Thank you for encouraging me to keep up on the Path. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  11. Awesome, full circle moment with awareness in the sprinkle.

  12. Good post Kozo! Amazing how the innocence of a child brings us right back into our hearts – where we often belong but seem to forget. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Geo Sans says:

    how many times
    I have to tell you ?
    receive a message
    at least 7 times
    it is
    part of their consciousness
    elementary school children
    they need to receive a message
    30 times

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