hand in airSince starting the first grade our son has taken to raising his hand. When the hubby and I are attempting to carry out a conversation our son will raise his hand and wait to have a turn to speak (sometimes this is even done quietly). It is a welcome change to the frequent, random interjections we typically experience.

At bedtime my son and I typically snuggle for a bit tucked under the covers. We chat, play games, practice counting, and pray before he gets good and sleepy. Recently, he as taken to making statements like these: “Raise your hand if you love Daddy”  and “Raise your hand if you love me.” More often than not the answer to his question is yes and we sometimes enthusiastically raise both hands and lift our feet into to air to strengthen the affirmation. A couple nights ago we went through this routine. He said “Raise your hand if you love me.” I raised both hands and both feet. Then he said, “Raise your hand if sometimes you get frustrated with me.” Ouch. I raised one hand. Then I asked him “Raise your hand if sometimes you get frustrated with mom and dad.” He raised one hand. We chatted about how it isn’t always easy to get along and that despite the fact we get frustrated with one another we will always love each other.

It was a good chat, but still I felt the mom guilt creeping in. I didn’t want him to feel like I was frustrated with him. But of course there are times when I am. Times when the forgotten tissue in the pants pocket just plain pisses me off as I pick bits of it from the entire load of laundry. Times when the fact that it looks like he got more food under his chair than in his belly after I’ve just vacuumed. Times when I’m certain he should have known better than to do what he just did. Yes, I get frustrated.

But I’m sure he does too. He is six and I often think we expect him to behave like a boring old adult. Times when I say I will play as soon as I finish doing one thing and then start five more things. Times when he is excited to show me some new goofy thing and I pretend to watch and then offer a halfhearted smile. Oh yes, I’m certain he gets frustrated too.

Sunday at church prior to the service starting the couple behind us was discussing their plans for the week ahead and all seemed to be going well, until the topic of laundry came up. Then the conversation took an ugly turn and right there in church the wife snapped “well I’m sorry for asking you to put away your own underwear.” Ha! I think she was frustrated too. To his credit, the husband was quick to say he would try harder to do it and clearly wasn’t looking for a fight.

And that’s the thing – we all get frustrated and how we handle that frustration is crucial. Aren’t there times when just raising your hand would be nice? You lift your arm up and get some acknowledgement. Have your grievance heard. That might feel pretty good. Aren’t there times when calling a time out would be even better. T those hands and say hold on, we need to slow down and think about what is happening here, and perhaps regroup. That might be a really good option.

There are times I think the things that frustrate us aren’t worth a second thought. They aren’t worth a spike in blood pressure or a harsh word. Times when the frustration borders on being over-sensitive, irritable, or a desire to be right. A Kleenex in the dryer is not the worst thing that could happen. Breathe Michelle. Let it go! But there are other times when it is legit. Times when it manifests from a person not feeling heard, respected, or appreciated. Those are important things. Worth raising a hand or calling for a time out.