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Sunday, April 23, 2017

"Out of Control:" Chapter 17

For the explanation of my current series, go to the first installment: http://bit.ly/2nnCvFx

Out of Control:
A Christian Parent’s Victorious Struggle with Child Abuse

A Memoir by Kathy Collard Miller

Chapter 17
Not Perfect Yet

October 15th

Three years old. I can't believe it. Darcy turned three on October twelfth. I smiled at her sitting on the floor watching Sesame Street. Oh, Father, thank you for this last month. It has been glorious. I've rarely been out of control, but more importantly, I love you and know you love me. Well, at least, most of the time. And I know now I'll never go back to my old anger habit.

I stared again at my to do list for the family birthday party for Darcy that evening. I was so glad Larry would be off work to help me. He'd left earlier for a real estate appointment that he said wouldn't take long. 

"Oh, wait, did I tell him I needed him to come right home so that he could help me?" I couldn't remember exactly saying that but certainly he would know I needed his help. 

As I stirred the cake mix, I glanced at the clock. "Okay, Darcy, it's ten o'clock; time to turn off the television."

"Longer, mommy, please, longer." Darcy frowned and a small tremor of terror erupted inside me. Not another temper tantrum! They make me feel so defeated.

At first I thought I would let it go, but then I remembered the difference in her obedience when I was consistent. If I said something, I should follow through. And if she disobeyed, immediately give a consequence. Being consistent is working. I'm not going to stop now.

"No, sweetheart. Besides, we're getting ready for your birthday party, remember? Go play with your new toys you received at the kids party." Darcy turned off the television with a flourish of her hand. She will make a good actress some day.

I turned away and headed for the kitchen to grab a pan for the cake. After putting it in the oven, I retrieved the vacuum cleaner out of the hall closet. After vacuuming the living room carpet, I looked over into the family room and saw Darcy--still in front of the television. How did I not hear here turn that back on?"

"Darcy, I told you. No more television." I wanted to yell but I lowered my voice.

Darcy began pounding the floor with her fists.

When are these temper tantrums going to stop? I thought she was over the terrible twos now. At least there has been a slight improvement.

But it's not enough. She's got to learn. As I thought of everything I still needed to do, anger erupted within me. I envisioned me jerking her up by her arm and giving her a hard swat.

My voice rose as I exclaimed, "Darcy, we're going to stop this right now." My long strides placed me within eyesight of the kitchen and my eyes settled on my lists on the refrigerator. I stopped and took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. 

All right, Kathy, calm down. Yes, Darcy disobeyed but she's only a little girl. You're not perfect yet and neither is she. Your anger is not going to make her obey. Remember Proverbs 15:1? "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Anger only enflames the situation. It doesn't accomplish what you want. And it's not a disciplinary tool. Tweet that!

I continued to breathe deeply. I felt calmer as I made a detour into the kitchen to get the wooden spoon to spank her. It had become a good friend because I took the time to retrieve it to calm down. And I couldn't just haul off and smack Darcy. 

I reached Darcy and when she saw the spoon, her mouth dropped open. "No more TV, Mommy. I promise. No spanking, please?"

"Yes, Darcy, I do have to spank you so you'll remember next time not to turn on the television."

After swatting Darcy three times on her bottom firmly but without anger, I cuddled her as we talked about why it was important for her to obey me. Then I diverted the conversation to her birthday party and her face brightened. 

"Darcy, Mommy really needs your help, OK? I'm making your birthday special so please help by playing in your room."

She nodded and jumped off my lap. As I went to check on the cake, I could hear her rustling through the toys in her toy box. 

I looked at my to-do list again. As tension began to constrict my chest, I reminded myself, "It's okay to settle for whatever I can do. I can give up my perfectionistic expectations. No one will care or even know what isn't done." 

Sighing in resignation, I finished dusting and then fixed lunch. The clock was ticking and Larry still wasn't home. Where is he?

Lord, please prompt him to come home soon. I really need him.
But it wasn't until I had the kids down for their afternoon naps that I heard the garage door rise. Larry rushed into the bedroom where I was folding clothes. "Hey, honey, I'm sorry I'm late but I went by Bob's for a while. He's still pretty sick even though he's doing a bit better. He might be able to get back to work in about a month."

I expected my anger to flare but instead, I sensed a peace. Thank you, Lord, you are teaching me to relax in you.

"I'm so glad he's doing better."

Setting his keys down on top of the bureau, he turned to face me. His dark hair and hazel eyes appeared especially handsome. 

He grasped my hands and pulled me down with him onto the bed. "You know what? I sure do appreciate you. I'm glad you're not sick." He wrapped his arms around me. 

I tried to pout but giggled instead. "You do, huh? I don't know if I appreciate you. I wanted you to come right home so that you could help me."

Larry began to pull away his arms but I held them around me.

"It's my fault, don't worry," I interjected. "I forgot to tell you. I thought you would realize it."

"Honey, I can't read your mind. You've got to tell me otherwise I don't know. Of course I'll help you." He started to sit up but I pulled him back.

"Larry, I realize I do expect you to be a mind reader. I'm going to try to remember to share things with you more. So here goes. I need you to set up the extra table and chairs."

We both got up. Larry replied, "Ok, will do, captain." He mocked a salute and headed to the garage. 

That evening, Darcy had a great time at her birthday party. Everything wasn't perfect and I didn't get everything done on my to-do list, but I was more calm and attentive to our guests. I knew I was on my way to victory.

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