I was having one of those days where I couldn’t stand my own kid.
Now, I know there is a whole group of readers who are going to gasp at that statement and think poorly of me. You are not my audience.
If you’re nodding your head and saying to yourself, “Oh, yeah, sometimes I walk ahead of my tempter-tantrum-throwing child in the supermarket pretending I don’t know who they are because I don’t even want to be near them,” you – YOU – are my people.
When I picked Mikey up from daycare he was in a mood. I don’t know if he was hungry or tired or both, but the 5-year-old prince was mouthy on the playground, and then unhappy when I put the kibosh on the fun and insisted we go home. He whined all the way home and even stomped up and down on the front stoop for a while before he joined me inside the house.
It was shaping up to be a truly fantastic night.
Once inside, he started playing with his action figures and I was able to start dinner. But, when I was elbow-deep in raw chicken, he seemed to remember that he was in a bad mood and started back up with the whining.
“I want a treat!” he pouted with a stomp of his foot.
“After you eat dinner, and after you fix your attitude,” I said.
“No!” he yelled right at me, and then started jumping up and down (where do they learn to do that?!) and crying. “I want a treat!”
I stalked over to him and grabbed Iron Man, or maybe it was Spiderman, right out of his hand and chucked it like a frisbee across the room where it landed on the sofa. “Do not talk to me that way!” I said in a very loud voice that I was trying not to escalate to a yell but, based on his expression, I was not being successful at.
I’m not quite sure how to spell out the sound he made in response. It was one he makes often when he’s pouting. It’s kind of an “Mmm” sound. He smushes his lips together and the sound rumbles out of him.
It makes me fly right off the handle sometimes.
I blew out a breath and said a silent prayer: Lord, give me strength. “Mikey, I didn’t say no. I said you can have a treat, but after dinner, and only if you stop whining.”
“I’m not whining!”
Another slow breath left me. “Look, do you want to color at the table while I make some dinner?”
“Mm-kay,” he nodded. Of course, it was barely audible and he wouldn’t look at me. Quite the teenager he’s getting to be…
I took a few steps toward the art supplies and stepped on some sort of happy meal toy that was lying in the middle of the floor. “Gah!” I shrieked, and as I quickly put my other foot down to shift the weight, that one landed on a throw blanket that was strewn across the floor and effectively hiding some other pointy-pain-inflicting toy, and I let out another yell.
And suddenly I was a fire-breathing dragon. I looked around at all the toys spilling out from the playroom and littering the living room, and the dishes from breakfast still in the sink, and his backpack and lunchbox, and my purse and lunch box that I had dumped just inside the door when I got home and I wanted to rent a dumpster and throw everything out.
My phone started ringing as I hobbled over to the coloring stuff and grabbed a few things and brought them to the table for Mikey. I picked up the phone, saw it was my husband and hit “accept.” I was expecting him home any minute.
“Hello?” I said with a bit of angst.
“Sorry, I’m just now leaving the office.”
Mikey threw a crayon down on the table and it rolled off and onto the floor and under the baseboard heater. I cursed under my breath.
“Uh oh,” Mike said in my ear. “A bad night?”
“Yep,” I answered.
“Uh, anything I can do?”
“Hurry!” I said, then hung up.
I didn’t ask Mikey how the rogue crayon offended him, I just got to work on dinner. The child seemed to get lost in his creative process for a few minutes and I thought we all just might make it through the night alive.
Sooner than expected the front door swung open and my husband came rushing in, and for some reason I can’t explain, I was suddenly, irrationally irritated with him. I was irritated that he was looking at me like I was a stark-raving lunatic who was hanging on by a thread.
I know… If the shoe fits, right?
“That was a new one,” he said as he approached me in the kitchen.
“What?” I snapped at him.
“‘Hurry!’” he mimicked my statement from earlier.
We both laughed. “Look,” I said. “He’s been in a mood all night.”
“It’s OK,” he said. “I get it.”
“Dada,” Mikey called from the table, and my husband went around the half-wall toward him. “Yeah, bud,” he said, all cool, calm and collected. And, like I was watching some sort of divine intervention, I watched as Mike stepped first on the happy meal toy, and (because apparently I am mentally ill) I purposely didn’t warn him about the hidden boobie-trap under the blanket and he landed his other foot right on it with a shriek.
Welcome to my world!
There is no point to this little story, other than to paint for you readers a picture of what it’s like in my household perhaps one or two nights a week. Believe it or not, there are plenty of days we have our act together – or at least somewhat together – but readers have made it clear that’s not what they want to read.
They want the naked, uncensored moments that turn a few more hairs gray and raises the blood pressure another notch.
Well, there you have it, folks.
Holly Crocco is editor of the Putnam County Times/Press and mother of a 5-year-old. She can be reached at email@example.com.