Stop. A simple word, with a lot of punch. Very few words have a sign, hand signal and color all dedicated to it. And it’s a word that in most instances makes you do something you don’t want to do. Because if you hear or see the word it means you’re doing something that you need to discontinue and why would you be doing it in the first place unless you wanted to do it, right? (Of course there’s always the exception such as, “You can stop taking your medication because your terrible disease is gone now”. That would be a good thing.)
Hannah asked me the other day why I am always telling her to stop doing everything. “You’re ALWAYS telling me to stop mommy! Always! You don’t always have to tell me to stop!” It made me stop, and think. Do I? So for the past 48 hours I’ve been listening to myself, and (once again) she’s right.
Stop picking up Luke
Stop chasing Luke
Stop taking all of Luke’s toys
Stop kicking the seat
Stop teasing the dog
Stop asking me for ____
Stop right there!
Stop when you get to the curb
You Need To Stop
And the list goes on. How terrible it must sound to always be told to stop. To never feel like what you’re doing is allowed or right or appreciated. And I know she needs to learn that these things aren’t allowed or aren’t what’s best for her but maybe I need to rethink my word choice.
I recall when I was 10 or so, at the bus stop with my brother. He’s 2 years older than me and (as all big brothers do) knew JUST what to say and do to push my buttons and throw me right over the edge. Oh my god did he annoy me, tease me, push me… And I’d yell “STOP!” And he’d start singing, “In the Name Of Love, Before you break my heart!” And this would annoy me more (and embarrass me in front of my bus stop mates) and I’d scream again, “Stop!”…”in the name of Love!…” he’d continue to sing and dance around me and I’d search for other words to yell to get him to cut the shit. (are you picturing how unbelievably irritating this was???) “Knock it off!” “Cut it Out!” “Quit it!” were on my list but he’d keep pushing and pushing me to tears. And I remember my mom telling me to ignore him. If I ignored him, he’d stop because what fun is it to tease someone if they don’t react, right? It’s “Sibling 101” crap. It was impossible to do though at 10 years old (or any age below 20 really). But what I could have done was join him in his song. I could have sung right along with him and swung my hips to the words just as he was doing. Not only would that have stopped him from annoying me, it would have made for quite a bus stop party. If I could only do it all over again…
So I’m thinking now, I need to join Hannah in her fun. Instead of telling her to stop chasing Luke… I’ll chase him with her and make sure it’s safe. Instead of telling her to stop crying, I’ll be sad with her and make her feel more understood. Instead of yelling Stop Right There! I’ll run beside her so that when we get THERE, we’re together. Instead of telling her to STOP kicking the seat, I’ll suggest she bangs her hands on her lap and we’ll make up a song. I know it won’t always work, but maybe it will alleviate some of my angst and make her feel like I’m not always squelching her fun.
I will try to Drop Stop (for a few days at least).