My day was going along, you know, and it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary at all, and that was fine.
Then I got a call from school about one child, and then later as I girded myself to deal with that child and that particular issue (and was coaching myself to try to refrain from starting with “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”), the kids arrived home and the OTHER child had a note detailing an EVEN BETTER transgression, one that caused said child to hand me the note and then RUN AWAY CRYING because there was no question at all that sticking around would mean bearing witness to my brain actually igniting and causing my face to melt off.
These things always come on the heels of a sanguine period where I wonder if maybe, just maybe, I’ve finally hit my stride. I’m okay! The kids are good! Life is bearable! And then one of my cherished offspring has to go hold up a convenience store for tattoo money, or whatever, and I’m thrown for a loop.
On the one hand, there’s little I dislike more than a parent—particularly a mother—who judges her worth based upon her children’s conduct. I never want to be one of those people. It’s too big of a burden for the kids, and it’s pitiful, besides. So when something like this stops me in my tracks and brings on the pangs of failure, I feel vaguely foolish for being so adversely affected.
On the other hand, if everything was going so well around here, would my kids be doing things they shouldn’t, in perfect stereo delinquency? I can’t help feeling that I’ve let them down somehow. Maybe I overlooked some need of theirs. Maybe this is a cry for help or the manifestation of some deep problem. (Deeper than their regular problems that I already know about, anyway)
Regardless, I had to find a way to proceed, this afternoon.
Monkey lay on the floor of the playroom, sobbing out his one hundred reasons of why it wasn’t his fault and he didn’t mean to. Every attempt to discuss the matter with him was met with fresh wails and finally I had to suggest he take some time in his room to settle down.
Chickadee was suddenly all “Yes Ma’am” and “No Ma’am” and “I think I’ll just sit right down and finish my homework and then shine your shoes and hope you don’t kill me,” which was heartening, but when I tried to have a discussion with her things took a wrong turn. It appears that she was tempted into misbehavior by a friend, and when I followed in the footsteps of all the mothers before me and asked if she would jump off a bridge if her friend suggested it, her angelic show faltered a bit; she both laughed at the suggestion AND rolled her eyes at me.
I had no choice but to dip them both in ketchup and eat them. It was so much more expedient than bothering to figure out how to effectively parent, and it also meant I didn’t have to defrost anything for dinner.