I reached a new low two weeks ago. My patience wore through and no amount of sympathy or understanding was going to save me.
We were sitting in church and Beth’s verbal ticks were firing on all cylinders. They were loud enough that I had trouble hearing the lessons being read, so I tried asking Beth to lower her voice. We think she has some conscious control over the behavior because she seems to be able to moderate her volume in other settings. So when she didn’t quiet down I told her she was going to have to sit outside if she kept it up. We sat in the back so something like this wouldn’t draw too much attention or embarrass her (or myself, perhaps creating a self fulfilling prophesy).
Well, she didn’t quiet down so I asked her to go out to the narthex until the sermon was over.
She said no.
“Come again, oh child of mine?”
That’s when I just about lost it, but I bit my tongue. When the sermon ended I told her we were leaving. When we got home, Beth sat quietly outside on the front porch, giving myself a time-out more than anyone.
And that’s when I started to question myself. It happens a lot when I resort to punishing the kids, but in Beth’s case I’m especially anxious about confusing symptoms with disobedience. I don’t want to punish her for being sick. I want to reward good behavior more often than punishing for bad. I want to be a good parent. I want to be bigger than her illness. I don’t want to be that angry parent we’ve all seen somewhere – flying off the handle any time their child strays from the narrow path they’ve laid out for them. I want her path to be wide, with as many forks as possible.
Today we’re skipping church. I just don’t have the energy.
Catholics don’t have a monopoly on guilt. I should know.