I am proud to say I can now reasonably tolerate messes made by my children. My husband called me over to the living room and gently pointed out the horror movie-style smeared hand print on the wall, and I just rolled my eyes. Yea, we’re going to have to repaint every surface when we move. No, I don’t know what the hand print is made out of, but it’s sticky.
I can also handle emergencies fairly well, and am usually the one volunteering to make the emergency room run. It’s a casual thing at this point, like a grocery run, because it happens so often. Luckily, it’s not usually an injury, but on a couple occasions Jackson has had an asthma attack get out of control and he needed immediate care on a Friday night. It nearly always happens on a weekend or evening, and off we go for an extremely expensive series of breathing treatments and a handful of prescriptions.
The thing I cannot handle is belligerence. I couldn’t abide my intoxicated friends in college slurring philosophical refuse while wearing a shirt with just a splash of vomit on the collar. And I easily lose my sh*t with my toddler, who yells that today is NOT Wednesday, and I need to GO GO GO because the light is green, and NOT red!
I’m not a terribly confident driver, and the motorists here are overconfident and make several poor decisions during each commute. I’m afraid someone will hit us at every turn because we’ve lived here six months and it’s already happened once. When my kid is shouting at me to drive faster and ignore posted signs, I am always seconds away from unleashing a string of profanity that would make Amy Schumer blush.
When I’ve finally managed to produce something edible in the kitchen despite my children insisting they should help by bringing in toys for me to step on, and my son says “no, it’s not dinner time”, I have to keep silent, for I have nothing nice to say.
If he just said “I’m not ready” or “I don’t like potatoes” that’d be annoying but not enraging. For some reason, his insistence on falsehoods fills me with the fire of a thousand suns. Perhaps it’s because there is no reasonable reply to an unreasonable statement. No matter how many times I insist that it’s not raining, he will persist in shouting that is it, in fact, pouring.
Jack is three and a half, and has recently become more combative. There’s a tiny, new-age parent inside me that says that’s good. Spirited children become CEOs! The rest of the parents I embody will not stand for such disrespect, and the parenting books don’t say what to do when your child is living in an alternate reality where every day is Saturday and all the meals are called “snacks” and must involve cheese. When his outbursts get out of hand we do time-out, which he doesn’t like, but it has no effect. I threaten to take things away, to make him miss a kid’s birthday party, to send him to bed without a story, and his new response is “that doesn’t how it works!”
Though his word choice is poor, the sentiment is correct. For couples, we have the Love Languages, and we learn what speaks to our partners. If my man’s love language is material gifts, I need to buy him a Rolex before complaining that he chews with his mouth open, etc. I have not deciphered Jack’s love language. He shakes off threats with “I didn’t want to do that anyway” and seems to learn nothing from time-out, or even being sent to his room.
Where I really struggle, is when I can’t use those standbys because we’re in public. A whispered threat that there will be no Paw Patrol when we get home if he keeps acting like a maniac will no longer get him in line, and I can’t just send him to his room in the middle of Target.
There’s a mom I admire who was more dangerous the quieter she got, and while I’ve given this a try on many occasions, the unintelligible shriek is typically my end result. When I’m not yelling, it must not be that serious, and when I am yelling, who cares? Mom is always yelling.
Until I figure out what speaks to him, why he’s acting out, and what will snap him out of it, bring on the throat lozenges. It’s Thursday, and we’re having broccoli for dinner.
To be fair, I remember many times my parents were yelling and mad, but never what they were mad about. The lessons I remember now, as an adult, were the quiet times my mom couldn’t shout because we’d ruined something too important to her that it was no longer about us. Call it a long con, cuz I still feel horrible about it.