Sunday, June 14, 2009


I wish that I had a calm temperament. I really do.

I was at the park yesterday and witnessed a 9 year old wipe out on her bike. The Mom was calm. Not trying to act calm, a feat I often attempt. She was actually serenely calm. The daughter was understandably upset at the blood flowing from her mouth. The Mom put her arm around her and guided her home to assess the injuries.

I cannot imagine what kind of blathering idiot I would be if the J Boy injured himself such that the blood was flowing freely. He can be a little excitable. Probably something to do with apple falling near the tree.

I work hard not to lose my composure over is when the kids do not hear me. This is a significant challenge as the J Boy only hears what I say after I've said it 7 times. In order to maintain a slightly larger quantity of calm (as in just over the quantity of zero) I will actually count the number of times I am repeating myself:

"J, your snack is ready."
"J, your snack is on the table, that's two."
"J, third time ...your snack."
"J, your snack is ready. That's the fourth time I told you."
"J, number five, snack is waiting for you."
"J, are you in there??? Snack is ready. That's the sixth time I've said that."

J Boy responds impatiently, "Mommy, I'm hungry. Is my snack ready?"

I only wish I were exaggerating.

But it is much more difficult to contain myself when they hear me but refuse to abide by the Mommy proclamation.

Last weekend, J was having quite a bad hearing day. I don't know if it was the phase of the moon, tidal surges or he just intended to make me crazy. Everything Husband or I said need to be repeated. A lot.

We were heading out to see a movie, something we were all looking forward to. I asked J the usual 7 times to put on his shoes. Which he doesn't do. Husband put them on for him.

Then J hung on the door. If there is anything that I have said as many times as "don't pick your nose" it's "don't hang on the door". I do not know what it is about doors and boys but he likes to hang on them as the door swings, which puts the hinges in jeopardy.

And so I said "J don't swing on the door".

He did it again.

I repeated myself, "J, don't swing on the door".

He did not cease and desist.

I said it louder, "J, DON'T SWING ON THE DOOR!!"

He did it again, but this time I know he heard me as he is looked straight at me and thought he has me on a technicality in that his feet barely touching the floor which, he postulated, means that it doesn't qualify as swinging. I did not share his interpretation.

"J. do not hang on the door!"

The cheeky so-and-so DID IT AGAIN.

"I SAID NOT TO DO THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I believe I may have broken sound by-laws. My throat was raw. Any mice in hearing distance no doubt left for quieter parts.

J predictably melted into a pile of anger, hostility and tears and ran to a corner of the basement. Typically, the J Boy's emotions are handled over hours and days not minutes or seconds. We do not have hours to sort this out if we are going to make it to the movie.

I was justifiably angry over his defiance.

I did not miss the irony that by screaming like a banshee at him, he is listening to me even less, if that is possible and in some senses I have ceded some moral high ground. I did not feel good about my parenting in that moment. I took a deep breath.

"J, I should not have yelled. I was upset that you were not listening to me. But I should not have yelled at you like that. You know you are not to hang on the doors and it doesn't matter if your feet are barely touching the ground. I told you not to and that means don't... hang... on... the ... door. If we are going to the movie, we need to leave soon, so take a minute, pull yourself together. We'll be waiting in the van."

It's like parenting in concentrate. Quick, to the point, hitting the highlights. [Later, I did have a further discussion of the physics of door hinges and how they are the weakest part and how expensive it it to replace and repair if the door is ripped out. I also elicited an apology from him].

The next morning, J lost a round of rock, paper scissors to determine who got to go first on a game. It was his idea of how to get around the impasse. However, in his mind he would win the rock, paper scissors match and get to go first (I believe he was planning to cheat). He flipped out. Husband happened to be walking by and was the recipient of a large dose of venom.

Ten minutes later, J wants his turn on the game. I told him he needed to apologize to his Daddy first. He balked.

I said drawing on my own experience, "it's okay to be disappointed that you didn't get to go first. But to yell at Daddy like you did and slam the door in his face was NOT okay. You cannot treat people like that. We all makes mistakes. But you need to own up and apologize to Daddy. Remember yesterday? When I yelled at you about hanging on the door? I was upset that you were not listening to me. It was okay that I was upset. What was not okay was that I yelled. I made a mistake, I told you I was wrong about that and said I was sorry. This is the same thing."

J is a little squeamish about confronting his emotions, like most of his Y chromosome compatriots on the planet. So he sent his Daddy an email of apology.


Ellie said...

It is just so hard sometimes, isn't it? You are human, and we all have limits, I get to my go-nuclear points, too. You handled it beautifully. A friend of mine told me this week (after I had my own little meltdown) that it is okay for the kids to see that I have a limit - like a REAL limit. It feels horrible, but things do tend to get better for a while, because we're all feeling a little sheepish.

Well done.

Konnie said...

Thank you Ellie.

You are right and it is hard and I don't feel good about it but if I can teach the J Boy anything, it's that when you lose it (and he does so much more than me), you need to regroup and join the civilized race again.