This afternoon I sat in the kitchen, wearing my big girl panties in expectation of the brawl sure to happen as the boys walked in from school. Immediately, there was arguing about a situation on the bus (yeah, this is everyday, nothing new here), followed by, “Take that off the floor – I tell you every single day to hang your backpack. Why can’t you just follow the directions ONE TIME?” followed by, “Mom, this is my last granola bar. I only had three already, just this one. Why mom, whyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!! I’m very starving! I didn’t get time to eat!!!!!!!!!” Followed by, “I said it’s time for homework. Now pull your head out of your butt, take your finger out of your nose and pick up that pencil!” Then this is usually followed by more yelling (obviously not by just the kids), threatening and finally tears. Tears always. In the past month (and strangely it is roughly the amount of time school has been in session), I can say with complete confidence that I have cried every single weekday. Sometimes it’s out of frustration, but most of the time it’s shame – shame at how I handled a situation, shame that I don’t know what to do, shame that I haven’t sought out the help we all need, and shame that I always know that there is someone out there in this same predicament who is handling all the same struggles with more grace than I’ve been faking – and they are probably the real fricken deal. Graceful, that is.
I’m sure there are a lot of mothers of special needs kids (yeah, I consider ADHD and ODD special needs. Sue me.) who may read this and think, “so what? You’re not so special – we all go through this, and you are actually pretty lucky – the steady income from hubby’s job, the health of the entire family, etc.” and to that I say, “Hah!” And, “You’re right, I am lucky.” But at the same time, those positives don’t necessarily deflect the negatives; they just make dealing with the negatives a little less stressful with room to breathe and focus on the behavioral issues and not hospital stays, babies crying, daycare scheduling, etc. Actually, if anything, the positives may tend to magnify the negatives as one in a comfortable situation has nothing else to complain about, if you get my drift. But maybe I’m just a complainer.
But here we were again in my kitchen, this time hours after homework. My youngest was in bed for an hour already and it was only 8:30 (hey, sometime’s an introvert’s gotta prioritize – I need my down time free of having to formulate words when I don’t want to). My two older ones were at the island counter, elbow deep in cereal and the proof was in the crumbs and mess all over. I walked in with the intention of getting a cup of tea but was instead interrupted by half a milk footprint, a quarter cup of Special K with Red Berries crushed into the grout, the open milk gallon on the counter, refrigerator door open, and yep, there was the cat nosing all the way in the second shelf of the frig, as if the rest of the activity wasn’t enough.
Son #1 (not as in NUMBER ONE! the favorite, as in number one, the oldest): I have more milk than you.
Son #2 (yeah, the middle child. And the one with ADHD. And ODD.): BOOCHYKABOOCHYBOOCHYKOWKOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW!!!!!!!!!!. (This is screamed. With a smile.)
Son #1: Moooooommmmmmm. His disgust with my silence immediately following his brother’s outburst shames me into action, though he acts as if I wasn’t standing right there, head pounding and cleaning up the mess they made.
Here comes my uncool moment . . . wait for it while they continue arguing and I turn and find an empty glass just sitting on the kitchen floor next to a pair of little shoes. It might be the little shoes that push me over the edge, and why not? Something was going to eventually. I had my bet on something son #2 did or said as is usually the case, but it seems he got a reprieve. ‘Bout time.
“AAAAAAALLLLLLRRRRIIIGGGHHHT!!!!!! That’s it. Snack is over. Get upstairs.” My teeth were clenched, so this came out as “Thatsh it. Shnack ish over. Gt upshtairsh.” I had noticed the open kitchen window nanoseconds before opening my mouth, so I made sure to keep my voice down. Wouldn’t want the neighbors to think I’m a screamer.
On our way upstairs, and yes I need to walk them up to make sure son #2 actually put one foot in front of the other and moved toward a goal, I pass at least five dirty socks, half a roll of toilet paper sitting on the catwalk ledge (I can only imagine), and another empty glass. At least this time it was on the nightstand and not the floor.
My blood was rushing, my cheeks hot, my hands clenched (yes, all over that silly pair of shoes in the middle of the kitchen floor). Son #2 flings open his door, which slams into the wall in the dark room, which is dark because his younger brother was asleep in there, and promptly wakes him up.
I wanted to scream, and shout, and let it all out Will-I-Am style but my brain was singing a PBS song (“When you’re so mad you could roar, take a deep breath and count to four.” Works for kids, why can’t I try it?) Don’t yell, don’t yell, don’t ye-
“GO TO BED! All of you, in bed, eyes closed, mouths shut. No kisses. NOW!”
There is was. The mean, spiteful, angry woman that hides below the translucent layer of momness just climbed right up and out and tada-d herself to my kids. Did it solve anything? No. Did it teach a lesson? Nah, not to the kids. Me? Hell yeah. An hour after all that happened, I went into each room to kiss them anyway and found a bedroom window opened. No biggie, normally, because my antisocial doctor neighbors practically never made appearances outside their home and always keep their windows closed tight against the dirty world. Except for tonight, apparently. As I closed the window, I noticed their office window was wide open, light on, a figure at the desk. Great. So if all the kid screaming didn’t convince them we were the epitome of immaturity and dysfunction, my unhinged banshee screams did. And if that wasn’t enough to shame me for my ill-tempered outburst, there was that sweet, not-too-innocent nine-year-old, all curled up with his little brother’s light-up stuffed animal (likely stolen from him shortly after I left the room), snoring slightly with his mouth wide open.
All kids are images of perfection when asleep. You can quote me on that one.