Monday, February 18, 2013

Flames and Lasers Coming Out of My Face

Typically, long weekend = opportunity for non-routinized, enjoyable shenanigans, yes? Saturday entailed the normal stuff (workouts, groceries, dance class).  And, slightly outside of the norm, Saturday also included a candlelit date night at a local colonial-era inn that I am sure was peopled by ghosts.  Spiritual activity aside, I recommend the cheese plate. And the cream of crab soup.  Oh, sweet Deity, I recommend anything that the Elkridge Furnace Inn has to offer. My husband insists that you try the blackberry chocolate ice cream.

Okay, then, Sunday = SPONTANEITY. I elected to skip church (don't worry, I'll confess it during some Lenten guilt-o-rama) in favor of SCIENCE! Some would consider this ironic. I am one who subscribes to the notion that the mathematical perfection of everything MUST mean it was contrived by a Higher Being.

I could be wrong. But, whatevs. Doesn't really change much about how I conduct myself.

Yeah, so we went to the Maryland Science Center in downtown Baltimore. We are Members, which means for the low, low price of $120 per year, we get to crash their indoor playroom and rock it out in the Davis Planetarium as many times as we want. (Tip: three, six, and eight-year-olds LOVE the Sesame Street One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure.) The best part of the Membership? We EZ-pass it past the plebeians. Woot! Nothing makes you feel like you've arrived more than being able to jump a line.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, to show you that we treat our kids to fun stuff, like, ALL THE TIME.  This way, you'll judge me less when I talk about today.

President's Day. A day to honor the service of the leaders of our nation.  We respect this day. I mean, jeez, my eldest boy shares a name with at least three presidents. My husband's a civil servant. We're big on honoring the gubment 'round these parts.

Anyway, I decided to take my older two children to 'Escape from Planet Earth.'  It's the first kids' movie to come out in ages. Since it was only 32 degrees today, our rampant-kid-energy-burn options were limited. It was either the movies or the mall, and God help me, I could not stomach the mall on a civic holiday that's been turned into a commercial discount smorgasbord.

I like to prep my children re: my expectations of them. The ONLY stipulations for this afternoon's entertainment were that (a) they needed to get themselves dressed in a timely manner, and that (b) they needed to brush their teeth and hair. My darling daughter, well, she has semi-long hair, and had not brushed it thoroughly in a day and a half. I knew this would be a chore for her, but as mentioned, there was ample warning that we'd need to tame the nest.

Forty-five minutes prior to departure time, I sent them up to get dressed. They both dawdled. We were in danger of missing the movie. The hair? Not so much an issue for the Boy, even though he is currently sporting a Beatles-esque mop-top. He can still run a comb through it lickety-split. But the Girl? The Girl has issues.  So, I brushed her hair. And I brushed it hard. There were knots, and there were also ridiculous amounts of tears and screaming.

You would think that tears streaming form the eyes of my darling daughter, my only girl, my blue-eyed, flaxen-haired blessing, would inspire sympathy in me.

You would be wrong.

In my head, I am screaming, SCREAMING, that this child is the agent of her own problems. She loves long hair, wants long hair, but doesn't want to care for it. YES, she is six. But, come ON. How many times do I have to explain that long hair = needs to be brushed daily = knots when you don't brush daily?

Instead of screaming, though, I brush vigorously, taking care not to hurt more than I have to (but not particularly worrying if there's some discomfort). I mean, we have to get to the movie on time, right? It's not fair to my oldest boy if he misses part of the movie because of his sister's hair issues?

So there are tears, and yelling, and shoving into coats and out of the house, into the car...  Then. on the way to the theater, my girl-child kept crying, wailing, about her grooming.  The word 'unfair' was used about eleventy times between my driveway and the tippy-top of our street.

I slammed on the brakes (no one was around, I checked). I turned, and erupted, "ENOUGH!" I saw space and time shift before me, melting under the flames of my crazed shouty anger.


"You keep using the word 'unfair!' Clearly, you think 'unfair' means you don't get what you want, when you want it, and how you want it. That's not what 'unfair' means. You are acting greedy, and unappreciative. Do you know how many movies I got to see when I was your age?"

"None?" she answered.

"That's right!" I shouted. Hrmph. I had clearly shared this information before. "NONE. When I was in first grade, my school took us on a field trip to see 'The Aristocats.' Other than that, my older brothers and sisters would take us to see movies every once in a while. I just want you to be grateful, and not act like a brat."

Silence. Silence and more silence on the five-minute drive to the theater.  We arrived, bought our tickets and snacks, and settled in for a mediocre kids movie.

All was fine by the end of the movie. All was forgiven; both the ridiculous resistance to grooming and the ridiculous overreaction to the resistance.

I don't really have any perspective on this. No wisdom to be found here.  My kid pushed my buttons, and I lost it. But I still did the fun thing, not wanting to punish all of my kids for the ridiculousness of one of them.

Mostly, I guess, I wanted to offer this:  it's typical for a kid to know how to needle you in just the right way to get you to explode. And you will explode.  I don't care if you had to barter your soul and a million dollars to bear or acquire your precious blessing.  They will, mark my words, turn you into a person so foreign to you, so rippling with anger and frustration that  you are temporarily convinced that you are a bad person.

Here's the thing, though:  in those moments, you realize the depth of your love for these children, because if anyone else treated you this way, God damn, you would throat punch them.

I swear, everyone was giggling about fifteen minutes after the tears threatened to breach the levees. Families are all slightly insane, right?

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