Tag Archives: Philosophizing

I’ll pray for you, you heartless jerk.

It was up… it was down.  Now it’s up again.  My cooling off period is over, and I’ve decided I’ve got to say what I’ve got to say.

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I’m so angry right now I don’t know what to do with myself.  The kind of angry I don’t get very often.  The kind of angry I don’t understand, because it is so unlike me.  The kind of angry that makes me wish bad things on people.

I don’t get like this over a wrong committed against me.  This level of ire is reserved for those who commit a wrong against one of my peeps.  One of my kids.  The details of this will (I’m sure) come out eventually, but for now I’ll keep it vague.  Not because I’m trying to protect anyone, just because I’m certain if I start, I will spill spew vitriol the likes of which the world hasn’t seen from me in decades.  There will be words spoken – and written – that can’t be taken back.

I think you get my point now.  I’m pissed.

So here it is in a nutshell: Someone has done something that has caused one of my children pain and humiliation.  Big pain.  Big humiliation. Which leaves me with the cleaning up part.  How to teach a child to deal with anger and disappointment, how to hold your head upright in an extremely awkward situation, and how to move on. I’m thinking I’m going to have to break this thing up into manageable chunks to deal with it.

Dealing with anger is a work in progress for me.  I do it better now than I have in the past, but shrinks everywhere make a living coaching people on how to do this, so I don’t feel bad that I haven’t mastered it.  I do know a couple of rules:  1) Resist the urge to confront immediately.  A cooling-off period is mandatory.  2) It always looks different to the person on the other end, so consider this before responding.  It may change your perspective, or it may give you good ammunition for sniping later. 3) NEVER put anything in writing after having consumed alcohol.

The next part is harder: how to reenter the public eye after being humiliated.  My instinctive maternal response was to shelter the boy.  To open my wing and tuck him under like a mother duck would do her baby in a rainstorm.  Then the rain would have to roll off of me, not him.  But that ain’t how it works for us humans.  Sooner or later we have to face the world.  A friend shared a cliché with me once, “If you have to eat a shit sandwich, there’s no point nibbling.”  Good advice.  Just get it done.  Expect it to be awful, and get it done.

Then, moving on.  Ahhhh.  The other part that keeps the mental health profession thriving.  Any and all advice is appreciated.

This particular kid faces more trials than most kids.  But then, not as many as others.  As I’ve shared before, when my mama was feeling down, she’d invoke the old saying, “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” There are parents out there today crying for much greater pains their kids are feeling.  And I reminded myself of that last night.  His problems are small compared to the big, scary world.  But they are BIG to him.  They are HUGE to him.  And his perspective is the only one I care about right now.

So the person who has committed this wrong against one of mine better look out.  When I decide to say my piece, it won’t be very nice.  And while I don’t usually wish harm to others, right now I’m wishing it on you, you arrogant coward.

To use the words of the Jaron and the Long Road To Love song, I’ll pray for you, sir.

I pray your brakes go out running down a hill.
I pray a flowerpot falls from a window sill and knocks you in the head like I’d like to.
I pray your birthday comes and nobody calls.
I pray you’re flying high when your engine stalls.
I pray all your dreams never come true.
Just know wherever you are honey, I pray for you.

Family Expectations

Note:  This post was moved from another page on the blog…  You’re not crazy.  You may have read it before.

My family has gone through a lot of transformation in the last few years.  My husband’s deployment to the Middle East, kids growing up and going off to college, little boys turning into big kids, and aging grandparents have all caused some unanticipated growing pains for us all.  So recently I felt the need to develop a new family policy.

In the “olden days,” things became law when they were posted in the town square for all to see.  It was understood that a citizen’s responsibilities included checking the designated wall from time to time to keep up with the changes, and to act accordingly.  In our house, the equivalent of that town wall is the refrigerator.  The left side of the fridge is for scheduling.  My integrated calendar hangs on that side, with each family member’s activities merged into one place.  The right side of the fridge is for policy.  When mom has a message for the family, that’s where it goes.  And the bigger it is, the more importance it bears.  And when it’s in colors – well, you just better read it and be ready to discuss it at dinner.

If I’ve learned nothing else as the only female in my household, it’s that I think differently than they do.  My girly sensibilities about being nice, sharing and the like don’t translate well to the guys.  But, still, I felt the need to restore a bit of gentility to my home, so started a list.   I pondered the lists in pop culture that state things that everyone should already know.  The one that seemed to have started it all was Robert Fulghum’s 1988 credo All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  Simple instructions – like Play Fair, Don’t Hit People, and Don’t Take Things That Aren’t Yours – that too many people seem to have forgotten (if they ever knew them to begin with).  The list I read most recently was Gretchen Rubin’s 12 Rules of Adulthood in her book The Happiness Project.  Hers are less practical and more existential, but still strike at the heart of kindness, honesty and fairness, in an introspective way.

As I considered the purpose of my list – to promote harmony in my household – I had to keep it on the practical side.  The males who live in this house don’t really like it when I speak in code, and I don’t really like it when they don’t understand me, so I figured I’d better be direct. Thus the list entitled “Family Expectations” was born.  Printed neatly on a small poster-sized page, each item in a different color, I’d used all the tools in my bag to express to them that this was important to me.  I even taped it to the fridge about 4’ off the ground, so it would be eye level to the youngest reader.  I went further, and de-cluttered the top of the fridge, so it wouldn’t be lost in the visual chaos that sometimes creeps up.

Family Expectations:

Be happy.

Cooperate with others.

Show respect.

Communicate without anger.

Act responsibly.

Be honest.

Pick up after yourself.

Forgive.

I chose not to make the customary announcement about the new posting, but to let it come to me from each of them in their own way.  While one or two of them may have chosen not to bring it up, I knew they all saw it, so my message was delivered.  Whether it would bring about a change in behavior I’d have to wait and see.  I didn’t think any of the entries were unreasonable, and all were things that a loving family should do anyway, so I had no need to feel like this was an abusive request.

The first day went by without remark.  The second day one of the kids made a sarcastic crack, actually using one of the posted expectations to extort a desired behavior from his brother.  (NOT what I had in mind.)   On the third day my youngest son drew a picture on the list, and added a few items.  (Again, not what I had in mind.)  The dialogue I imagined never happened, but my point was made.

I get these dreamy visions sometimes, of my family having an intellectual discussion about matters that are of importance to me, taking them seriously, ending with a big group hug of confirmation.  But that never happens.  So I have to accept that we are not the uber-polite, Stepford-family in my visions.  My kids argue, don’t clean their rooms without threats, pull tricks not to eat their vegetables, and sneak electronic devices under the covers after bedtime.  But they also do their homework, eat dinner at the table with their parents, go to their little brother’s school play on a Saturday night, and are generally good kids.   And we love each other.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’m such a Lucky Mom!

The Years are Short

My fifth-grader came home this week with instructions for his first research project.  A research project.  My baby.  The youngest of my three kids.  The one who’s never supposed to grow up.  I remember like it was yesterday sitting at the kiddie table in my den with a bucket of crayons, and the lesson of the day was “staying in the lines.”  It really can’t be that long ago…  Now we have to do a research project.

He chose Marco Polo as his subject.  In the coming days we’ll be learning about Marco’s life and adventures, and I’ll be trying to get a 10-yr old boy in modern America to relate to the concept of an “undiscovered” world.  I’m not looking forward to that.  But what I am looking forward to is sitting at the table with him, having his undivided attention, and holding on to him for a moment. 

As any mom will tell you (especially one with at least as many kids as I have) is that days are long.  We rise early, ready ourselves, wake the family, make sure everyone’s fed, wearing the right uniforms, delivered to the right schools at the right time, then start our day.  As soon as we get a little momentum, it’s almost time for the school bell to ring — and then the real chaos begins.  Carpool, after-school activities, homework, dinner, showers and bedtime.  Just getting it all done takes drill-sergeant-like qualities, which don’t necessarily bring out the best in a mom.  I know from my frequent chats with other moms that I’m not the only one who collapses as soon as the last kid hits his pillow.  We’re wiped out long before then. 

Each day seems like a long journey.  But then they run together, and the time compresses, and before you know it one is in college, one is in high school, and one has to do a research project. 

The days are long.  But the years are short.