Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Hidden Pleasure

(Picture courtesy of wainscoat.com)

Until very recently, I had a hidden pleasure. I would derive a certain superior satisfaction when I viewed another parent acting out of anger because it showed me that I was not the only one who did such. If a parent really lost their temper at their child's misbehavior, I would arrogantly think to myself, "Wow, I might not be a tzaddik gamur when it comes to controlling my temper, but I am certainly not as bad as THAT guy!!"

Commuting home one Erev Shabbos, I stood on the subway platform and waited for my train to arrive. A little girl wandered over near the edge and then was suddenly yanked back by her mother. Leaning over with a bright red face and eyes bulging, the mother quietly screamed at the little girl for what seemed to be an inordinate amount of time; longer than what would seem necessary to explain that what she had just done was extremely dangerous.

The mother ended her tirade and stood up as her blood continued to boil. The little girl's eyes were now full of tears after having been subjected to this verbal onslaught. It was impossible for me to derive any inner "pleasure" after witnessing this scene and I suddenly came to the realization how I had been wrong on previous occasions. I recalled a quote I had read earlier that day from Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach:

"If I became the chief rabbi of Israel, the first decree I would make would be that yelling at wives and children would be a criminal offense."

Perhaps Hashem arranged for me to be on the subway platform at that very moment in order to show me just how wrong I had been with my prior feelings of superiority when another parent lost their composure. Instead of reveling in the parents loss of control, I should have been empathizing with the feelings of the berated child.


At March 18, 2008 at 9:37:00 AM EDT, Blogger Leora said...

Since we're all human, and sometimes we do lose our tempers with our kids, it's important to examine when we are losing our tempers, in what situations.

I usually yell at my kids when I am upset about something that has absolutely nothing to do with them. Last time I lost my temper with my daughter, I told her I need to read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day to her. Because I was having a bad day.

Also, important not to confuse yelling with saying 'no'. Kids need to hear 'no'. I identify too much with my daughter's feelings, so I have a hard time saying 'no'.

At March 20, 2008 at 12:55:00 AM EDT, Blogger torontopearl said...

I believe that the mother primarily ranted on and on at her daughter primarily out of fear, rather than anger.
As Leora says, we often yell at our kids as a result of something that has nothing to do with them; they just happen to be in our direct path. We are tired, we are frustrated, we often lash out.
Oftentimes I react more than anything, rather than taking a deep breath, counting to ten and maintaining or trying to maintain a sense of calm.
But I do know that a couple times, I did yell out of a reaction of fear. Believe me when I said I felt terrible doing so, and then I apologized to my children and explained my reaction.
If that mother on the subway platform could only do the same...

Have a freiliche Purim together with your beautiful (pu, pu, pu) family.


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