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