What The Screaming And Crying Really Mean

I dealt with three different hour-long drama fests over here today.

Three of them.

As soon as I resolved one situation and some semblance of peace was restored, emotional chaos broke out again.

The worst of the scuffles was over a Rainbow Loom.  My "big" girl got mad because the little kids destroyed her thoughtful and well-ordered bracelet making system.  Although the big girl has made repeated requests that everyone respect her things, the little kids ignored her.  When she discovered they had used her rubber bands to make their stuffed animals' necks resemble those of an African Aborigine,she lost it.

She went berserk.

Went coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs.

And there was all this drama over some...rubber bands?

I don't know many things, but I do know she wasn't really upset about rubber bands.  She was freaking out because she didn't feel heard.  She didn't feel anyone loved her enough to respect her things.

So she hurled toys and screamed and cried.

The situation became so heated, I had to send everyone to their corners to calm down. I kept telling myself that one of my functions as a parent is to absorb the emotional outbursts of my children, while refraining from my own escalated meltdown.  By the grace of God, I was fairly successful in this particular moment (don't ask me about the other ones from the day) but damn...absorbing All The Emotion from that one kid was hard.

It was painful for me to watch the intensity of of hurt/anger/despair she was feeling. 

After everyone settled down (myself included), my child came to splotchy-faced and hiccuping.  She told me she was a horrible, no-good, rotten person.  She fell sobbing into my arms.

"It's not true," I told her.  "You're a good person."  

"I'm sorry, Mom," she whispered, now a bit calmer.

"For what?" I asked.  I wanted to allow her the opportunity to own her bad behavior.

"For losing my temper," she answered, as she plopped in the chair beside me.

"Yeah," I nodded, "that was pretty intense."

She looked down at her hands, which she had neatly folded in her lap.  She felt ashamed, remorseful.

Sin does that to a person.

"Who do you hurt the most when you flip out like that?" I asked her, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear.

She looked up at me, streaks of tears stained on her cheeks.

"Jesus?" she said.

"Please, that Man was murdered on a cross.  You don't think He can handle a little temper tantrum from you now and then?"

She smiled weakly.

"My siblings?" she tried again.

"Well, I'm sure you did hurt them, but you can say you are sorry.  I don't think they're scarred.  They'll get over it.  Who did you

really

hurt?"

She looked down again before she answered.

"Me.  I hurt me."

Her eyes shone wet with fresh tears.

My heart ached. 

How many times have I been a screaming siren, a wailing bag of bones begging for someone to help me figure out what's

really

wrong?

How many times have my yelling and screaming obstructed a hidden, hurting soul?

"Yeah," I said.  "You hurt you."

I asked her to apologize to the little kids, which she did.  The littles reciprocated regrets and then I doled out consequences.  We all hugged again.

After it was all over, I was tempted to contemplate the level of dysfunction running rampant in my family.  I was tempted to think about my many failures as a mother, about the poor example I set for them and how that example is warping their ability to integrate into the world.

But then...I stopped the ruminating. 

Family life is messy

.  There is absolutely nothing orderly and predictable and even keeled about living in a house with eight very different personalities.  In fact, I'm surprised we don't have

more

shrieking and hurled objects. 

So...yeah...our family life is messy.  But we're not avoiding the untidy aspects of our relationships, we're digging deep.  And if we keep practicing and making mistakes and asking for forgiveness, maybe eventually all the screaming and crying won't be necessary.

Maybe we'll be able to actually use words.

At least that's what I'm hoping.