Friday, December 5, 2008

I Won't Go to Rehab

This appears to be in direct opposition to the title of my last entry.

I crabbed again at Brahm yesterday morning as we rushed out the door for school. I promised myself the day before after crabbing all afternoon at Oliver that I wouldn't do it again. If it were bonafide parenting that I was about, that's one thing. But taking out life's little frustrations and unmet expectations on my children is another. But the promise is only as good as that of someone who's behavior is out of control and they know rehab looms on the horizon as the only way out. It's as if the promise itself holds some kind of balm that will somehow magically heal the source of the crabbing. And just what is that source? Are they truly being naughty? Am I insufficiently caffeinated? Was I not loved enough as a child?

"It always seems to be made worse when punctuality is an issue. Try diffusing the situation by preparing in advance." advises Dr. K. "For example, you say you lose your temper Sunday morning when he can't find his shoes and you're going to be late for church. Why not anticipate this and have him set out his shoes the night before?" Her suggestion seems so obvious. Why doesn't this occur to me on my own? Why do I have to shell out a $25 copay to acquire this kind of information? Well, it works when I remember to work it. It also works best when the battery on your phone isn't dead so the alarm fails to sound putting you behind an extra 34 minutes for the morning. In other words, it works when life doesn't happen. And life seems to happen about 85% of the time.

"Why do have to be so bossy?" he shoots at me as I run up to the car.

"The answer, dear seven-year-old, is because I AM THE BOSS!" I reply in my best impersonation of an intimidating mother figure. Besides, I know it's only said for show anyway since apparently it's not coming through on its own. Maybe this is what is irritating to me: why can't they just accept my position of superiority and then understand that, by nature, their rank then falls in below mine?

"And furthermore," I add, feeling a lecture coming on, "I wouldn't have to boss if you would know what to do on your own! Why are you just standing there by the car when you should be in it with your seatbelt on, ready to go?"

That should give them some food for thought! Hmph.

Doors slam, the engine turns and we're off. This last point made in my favor will surely be the morsel of logic that persuades them to my way of thinking. "Where would we be without Mom's abundant life experience to guide us?" they must be thinking now. Instead, I glance in the rear view mirror and see Brahm. He has pulled his head completely inside his coat, not unlike a tortoise under siege, and is starting to cry.

I look upward. "God, spare me this little display of emotion," I say to myself pretending He and I are on the same side in this moment. I shift uncomfortably in my seat but say nothing, my eyes straight ahead on the road. Mom guilt is setting in but I'm doing a good job at staving it off.

"When you get mad and say that, that means you don't love us!" he says accusingly through his zipper.

That criticism is just what I needed to bring me back to rational thinking. He has lobbed the ball back in my court and now I return it with the biggest swing I've got: "If I had even thought of talking back to Buck and Noni like that when I was a little girl, they would have spanked my bum so hard it would have stayed red for a month! That is definitely not the way kids talk to their parents!" Translation: I'm losing ground here but my voice is way louder than yours right now which means I just won the match. THE END!

No one says anything for the rest of the ride. My self-justification is slipping. I can't believe I went the "Why, when I was a kid..." route. I mean, kids really love that, don't they? When they hear it they say to themselves, "Boy, I'm so lucky I didn't grow up with parents like Buck and Noni. I should be grateful to have Mom. I think I"ll start obeying everything she says from now on." And this on the heels of a visit two days earlier in which Buck and Noni had given them them $20 each to go buy whatever Pokemon cards they wanted. If ever I give them money they have to pay it back to me with 10% interest. Yeah, real effective. With any luck, they'll be calling Grandma and Grandpa tonight asking to move in.


Back at home I'm in the kitchen making Brahm's lunch - that's how late we were. I'd drop it off after taking Oliver to school later that morning. An idea occurs to me and I go off in search of a pen and paper. A butterfly post card sits on top of the desk and I choose that. "Dear Brahm," I write. That pen runs out of ink and I pick up another, tracing back over the first words. "Dear Brahm, Do you think people can have an argument and still love each other? I love you very much and even though I was crabby, I hope you still have a great day. Love, Mom." I tape a chocolate-filled silver coin to the front and slip it in his lunch bag.

This would be a great place to wrap up the entry. It's a nice point of resolution where the conflict dissolves into a place of understanding and forgiveness. But that only happens 15% of the time when life doesn't happen. But this isn't one of those times.

On my way out the door again, the phone rings and Brahm's unmistakable voice comes through the other end.

"Mom? Uh, today is the class field trip and you marked on my permission slip that I was supposed to take school lunch with me."

So much for the nifty note idea.

"And Mom? My lunch account is out of money."


BakerBloggers-Matt & Jenny said...

Can I just say how refreshing it is to know this is happening in households other than my own. Just remember we are not perfect, we have never been mothers before, and for some reason children do not come with instruction manuals! Good luck today and everyday. I know we all need it. And there is something about those little jabs they give that make us revert to our inner children and jab right back. Not sure why, but boy does it happen.

Croft Family said...

It brings comfort to me knowing I'm not the only crabby mom. If you go to rehad let me know I will come with you :)

Super Kate said...

I only have one question...Pokemon is still around???????

Utah Grammie said...

Yes, we have those days. And yes it is soo hard. And yes, they forgive us and love us. Now, all we have to do is forigive ourselves and love ourselves and life will go on..and on ..and on...