It DOES Feel Like Defiance, Sometimes...
I still remember it like it was only yesterday. As I told her sternly not to use her crayon on the furniture, she looked at me straight in the eye and drew a BIG FAT BLUE LINE across my orange couch. The nerve! Anger bubbled inside of me, and I stared right back, struggling for the appropriate words of admonishment. I was trying so hard to be forgiving, but something snapped in me that day, and my girl received one of the hardest yelling in her life. And I had been so ready to approach the whole situation in a calm and grown-up manner.
I was the adult and I was supposed to know better than yelling at a clueless two-year-old.
My reasonable adult side knew that the little girl in front of me wasn't really trying to make me angry. She was probably just curious in my reaction to her action, and she had never expected such an explosive reaction from me. She didn't fully understand that crayon was to be used for paper only, and not a decorating tool for anywhere else in the house.
For those who are curious, this is what I did: I probably yelled for a full five minutes, after which I punctuated my point with a slap on her little palm (which successfully shocked her into tears) and sent her away to stand facing the wall.
Totally opposite to what I stood by and believed in, as I was trying very hard to practice respectful parenting, at that time.
But my, those eyes! Just one look and they sent me over the edge. Completely. Never in my adult life someone or anyone has ever triggered such a violent emotion in me, and I couldn't believe that this little toddler managed to do me in.
However, as I mulled over my regrettable lapse of anger, I recognised the itty bitty emotion that was hiding behind my anger. It was disappointment. We all want the people we love to be on our side, and I love her so much that the 'act of defiance' shocked my heart and soul into anger. Plus, I'm no saint. I'm just human.
I ended that day with a gentle explanation of the rules of using crayons and lots of cuddles. I apologised for yelling at her and gave her a lot of kisses. She hugged me in relief and for awhile she only wanted me to hold her.
And over the years, I still occasionally lose my temper with my children, sometimes over small matters. Anything could be a trigger - stress, exhaustion, PMS, simply pride... :) But I also learn to avoid the situations that trigger my anger and to be much more forgiving with myself. After all, the kids will meet all kinds of difficult and easygoing people in real life. And I made a promise with myself never to let anger end my day with the children. Yelling always leaves a bad taste in my mouth, so I always come to them and apologise, and explain the reason of my anger. My eldest, the sensitive one, always gave me a big hug and said, "It's okay, mummy... there is always next time. I love you."
I am not a perfect mother, and I embrace this.