Today, you can call me Fun Killer. It's the name common amongst the 7-10 year old set, and one I've heard on a regular basis. I'm ok with it.
Because today, there was a loud "BAM!" in the living room, to which I responded, "What was that?!?!"
"It didn't break!" came the sassy reply.
"I didn't ask if it broke, I asked what is was."
And then, "You're a fun killer. You never let me have any fun." Stomp, stomp, stomp.
For those still with me, it was a blue dog ball being thrown in the living room and thus hitting the glass from the gas fireplace. Also something I've heard on a regular basis. Something I'm not ok with.
See, in our house we have a strict no ball throwing policy. Not dog balls, not tennis balls or golf balls or basketballs. Not bowling balls or bouncy balls or whiffle balls. No Balls! None!
Because, not matter how simple I make my decor, a home with 5 boys will be destroyed in a matter of minutes if there is ball use allowed inside.
We have foamy swords and pretty throw pillows. We have blankets and cushions. Jump, run, create... but do not throw a ball in the house.
This morning, my brain got all stirred up in the metaphor of the ball throwing, "it didn't break" scenario.
Because, the other problem we're having in our home is a severe lack of kindness.
Like being told I am a fun killer. It's not kind and to say I'm ok with it, I simply mean that I'm ok with the boundaries I've set up in our home and therefore, if my 7 year old wants to be in a snit because I took his "fun" away, meh... too bad. I'm not ok with the meanness of words.
This week alone, I have been called dozens of names by my little kids. Among my favourites: Poopfart, Fun Killer, meanie, witch.. and the all time favourite... Beckyyy! (say it like you'd say Kaarrennn!)
These kids are also turning on each other. Liar! (mostly true) Crybaby! Loser! Stupidhead!
And I hate this so much. And don't get me wrong, we are working our butts off for the mental health of these kids, so we've got practical ways of dealing with these outbursts. But what I hate is that they don't yet grasp the damage that they're doing to one another and the rest of our family.
Words can hurt. Just because I don't fall down on the floor in tears every time my 10 year old comes at me with another hurtful name, doesn't mean there isn't a crack forming in my heart.
Just because it's not broken, doesn't mean there isn't damage that needs to be repaired.
And this is perhaps one of the biggest things I struggle with as a mom. Why are my kids so mean? What have I done to create such little monsters?
Truth be told, there are things that I have had a hand in, but ultimately, my kiddos are in pain and they're lashing out. The shame voice in their head tells them they aren't good enough and that makes them angry and mean.
One of my kids struggles with his weight. He was on medication for a few months that cause pretty intense weight gain and now he's stuck in a poor eating / low exercise routine. He hates his body. He doesn't want to go to school for fear of kids laughing at him. He's wearing sweaters in hot weather and overheating because he doesn't feel confident in just a t-shirt. He's embarrassed of himself every second of every day. And he takes it out on me because the release of anger makes him feel better for 5 seconds. And it's only a short moment before his shame voice kicks in again but in those 5 seconds, he can breathe.
So the meanness is the result of deep shame. Of deep insecurity and anxiety. And like a ball flying around the breakables in our house, so to the shame destroys anything in it's path.
In our house, we are working on being kind. That means using soft tools like our foamy swords and throw pillows to set boundaries and clean up messes.
Just because you can't see the damage, doesn't mean it's not broken. And just because you've hit it with a ball before and it didn't break, doesn't mean that it won't the next time.
Be kind! There are so many memes and pithy sayings about how we don't know what someone else is going through so be nice to them, always. But as cheesy as these sayings are, they are so true.
To look at my 10 year old, a judgemental view could be that he's lazy, that he sits around and watches screens all day, that his mom lets him eat too much sugar, that he's indulged. And yet, if you knew him, you'd know that he's scared of everything. Absolutely everything. And that he sees Dr's because of it. And because of this fear, his shame voice is so crazy loud. And you'd know that he hates being overweight and that he stresses about what he eats. You'd know that he rides his bike to and from school or goes swimming in the morning or scootering at the bike park. You'd know that we limit screens and junk food in our house and that my kid is working really hard to honour those limits.
And you'd know that he's trying to protect himself from the pain of being broken by being mean to hold you... me... away. Because he doesn't feel worthy of love.
Just because it doesn't look broken doesn't mean it's not. The cracks are there in the foundation. Shame is a sneaky liar, getting in those cracks. And all it takes is one good BAM! and the cracks break open.
So be kind. To others, sure. But also to yourself. Which of your cracks will burst you apart with the next hit? Where do you need accountability in the form of a soft foamy sword? What does it look like for you to lay your head on a little couch pillow and confront the shame voice in your head?
My shame voice tells me that I'm a bad mom because my kids are mean. It tells me that they don't love me because somehow I've let them down or that I've done some wrong parenting. But like I said before, while I may have a hand in imperfect parenting, the shame voice is a liar and these fears are not truth.
Just like, Kinstugi, my cracks are being filled with gold... truth, love, gratitude. That I may be able to show kindness to my kids. And kindness to myself and others around me. That over time, I may heal from hurt and be built into something beautiful. That my cracks will not allow me to break but instead show character and stability. And that shame voice will become more and more quiet and less powerful.
Be kind. Be filled with gold cracks and healed wounds.