‘Stop using your wolf voice Mama,’ said my eldest this morning. What a great way to describe my asshole voice – the one that comes out when I have been unable to control my temper.
My son was having an epic tantrum. He wouldn’t tell us why he was so upset. I ran downstairs, dripping wet from a snatched morning shower, to crying so heart-wrenching I thought something truly awful had happened. Like, he’d lost a piece of Lego or something.
I did that thing that is the opposite of the story from Aesop’s Fables, The North Wind and the Sun. Do you know it? I think about it weirdly often. The tale really struck me as a child. Basically, the wind and the sun quarrel about who is strongest. The wind, as is its wont, was blustery and forceful, convinced it would be the one to get a passing traveller’s cloak off. He loses it and blows as hard as he can, but all the man does is pull his cloak even tighter. Then – you guessed it – the sun gently shines. It glows and winks and burns brightly. The man throws his cloak off.
So, yes, I did the opposite of that. I kept saying, ‘What’s wrong? What’s wrong?’ whipping myself up into a foul and impatient mood. Eventually I forced him to tell me through blackmail – you know, this one: ‘If you don’t tell me now X will happen’.
He answered. ‘Daddy poured milk on my cereal’. Wolf voice came out in force. ‘Are you (insert nearly a swear word here but I managed not to say it) joking me?’ His eyes widened. The milk and cereal were forgotten. There was a frigging wolf in front of him.
I think about that Aesop’s fable a lot as an adult because I keep having to learn the same lesson repeatedly. Being taught it once just doesn’t cut it. If you are forceful and shitty – with your children, with anyone – things will backfire on you. If you can tap into some level of light within yourself, and let that illuminate your reactions, then your children (your spouse, your boss, your friends, whoever) will automatically shine back in response.
You’ll get some time to feed the wolf before it bites, too.