The Day My Pride Died

Last week I made an enormous ass of myself at my husband’s place of employment.

He’s a manager at a car dealership, and I don’t know what kind of people the other managers have coming to visit them at work, but I highly doubt Robbie will ask me to stop by and visit him again anytime soon.

I could offer up a thousand reasons why I was so stressed out, but the summarized version is that I was out running errands with two of my children, trying to beat the rain. We were right across the street from where he works, and I thought, you know what, I should call Robbie and ask him to come meet us for lunch. That would be a nice thing to do. So I did.

I’m a good wife. A thoughtful wife.

He said he could not meet us, but would we like to stop by the dealership instead? He just moved to a new store, and I have not met any of his new co-workers yet or seen his fancy new office.

I looked at the sky, which was black. I looked at our two youngest children, who were both covered in cinnamon sugar. I looked at myself, and quickly looked away. This was NOT a good time to make a first impression.

“Of course,” I said. “We’ll be there in a few minutes.”

The dealership was very busy, and because I was distracted by all of the activity, I pulled in the wrong way and a mail truck was blocking my path. Robbie emerged from the building and watched as I tried and failed to maneuver our gigantic van into a parking spot as our over-excited children shrieked and screamed “DADDDDDDDY! DAAAAAAAAADDY!” from the backseat.

My 4-year-old unbuckled himself and slammed into the back of the front passenger seat as I rolled over a curb. “WHY ARE YOU UNBUCKLED?!” I screeched as I threw it into reverse. By now a crowd was gathering. Robbie visibly cringed as I tried once more to squeeze our vehicle into a too-small spot. And that is when it happened.

I snapped.

Maybe it was all the errand-running. Maybe my nerves were shot, and my blood sugar was low and I was over caffeinated. Maybe I should have declined his offer to come visit and maybe I should have worn a more flattering outfit and MAYBE I HAVE NO BUSINESS DRIVING THIS MOTHER FUCKER OF A VAN.

Muttering unrepeatable phrases under my breath, I squealed off, again in the wrong direction, trying to turn around. By now everyone was definitely staring, and I was furious — with myself, with my husband, with the screeching children, and with life in general.

I drove directly into a dead end portion of the Hyundai lot and screamed. Then I realized that my window was rolled down.

pRIDE

This is the actual dealership where my pride passed away.

Two salesmen were watching me, and I imagined the following conversation taking place:

Salesman #1: Hey man, do you see the new finance guy’s batshit crazy wife attempting a 3-point turn in that tiny area surrounded by brand new cars?

Salesman #2: DUDE.

Salesman #1: I hope she hits one. That would be AMAZING.

Salesman #2: It’s looking like she might.

Salesman #1: Damn, she made it out.

I finally made it back around to the appropriate parking space. My husband unloaded our stunned children and I sat in the car, too mortified to exit the vehicle. “We can sneak in through the courtyard,” Robbie said. “There’s a back door. No one will see you.”

I got a baseball cap out of my bag and pulled it low over my face. I avoided eye contact as we sneaked in through the back door. Because that’s what my life has become.

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Teaching My Children That Race Doesn’t Matter

The boys found my favorite Christmas ornament in the kitchen today and asked, “Who is the little boy in this picture?” I told them the picture came with the ornament, so I didn’t know, but he sure was cute.

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After a few minutes, Maverick asked me, “Why is this Santa brown?”

“What color do you think Santa is?” I asked. Both boys decided that Santa must be white, because most of the Santas they see are white.

“No one knows what color Santa is,” I told them. “Kind of like how no one knows what color God is, either.”

“Why are all of the Santas we see white, then? And why are the pictures of God white, if no one knows what He looks like?” They stared at me.

“Because sometimes white people think everyone should be white.”

Maverick said, “That’s dumb.”

I agreed.

Asher (who had been quietly listening this whole time) said he thinks God is purple. Or yellow. He can’t decide, but definitely an LSU color. I didn’t correct him, because who am I to say? AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

It doesn’t.

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The Day We Stopped Yelling.

I used to talk a lot about my oldest child’s behavior problems, but if you are a long time reader, you have probably noticed that has tapered off some. I still have stories I could share DAILY, but instead of focusing on what my kid is doing that seems sociopathic, I am really trying to focus on the things he’s doing well. Positive parenting and all that. Plus, by the end of the day, I’m just glad it’s over. No need to rehash.  I made it, we’re safe. The end. Well done.

Maverick is an amazing kid, but he has issues with anger and is very (VERY) oppositional by nature. He is a brilliant, demanding, complicated child and he gets every single difficult characteristic from his father … obviously.

Some issues have calmed with age and maturity, but other things seem to be running deeper and becoming more serious. After a few recent events, I realized that we need to make some changes to our parenting style. Things that used to work for us are no longer working, and over time Robbie and I have become … cringe … yellers.

Just admitting that makes me uncomfortable. We were not yellers in the beginning, neither of us came from yelling households, and now we are yellers. There are a million excuses and reasons I could give for why that is, but it doesn’t matter because we are the parents and we set the tone. I don’t want to live in a yelling household, and yet we do. That’s not the tone I want to set.

In the worst moments of my day, generally between 4-6:30 p.m., I have an out-of-body experience where I hear myself screaming at my children like a maniac because no one’s listening and everyone’s throwing food on the floor and acting like hoodlums from SOMEONE ELSE’S HOUSE, CERTAINLY NOT MINE, BECAUSE WHAT KIND OF MOTHER HAS CHILDREN WHO ACT THIS WAY?! The mom I saw, I didn’t like. I didn’t even recognize her. I thought she was better than that. She used to be, when she had one kid. But then she had two and then three and she felt ill-equipped to handle her oldest, complicated child because her life was overwhelming. Sometimes when you’re overwhelmed it’s hard to gain clarity to see how things really are.

Robbie started yelling more when he was home. And then we saw our kids start to model that behavior. Yesterday I had flash-forward of Maverick at 14, towering over me and screaming “You’re an idiot!” refusing to comply with anything I asked of him, and that was it. I was done. No more yelling, and Robbie agreed.

That was last night. This morning, Asher woke up first. He had pooped his pants. I changed him and put the dirty diaper in a shopping bag, tossing it out on the carport to put in the big garbage can later. Robbie woke up with the stomach bug that is traveling from member to member of our household. He dragged himself around, getting ready for work; he was going anyway, even though he felt terrible. So for all the people who are buying a Kia today — stock up on charcoal tablets. You’re going to need them. Wash your hands if you shake hands with Robbie Hobbs.

We reminded each other over breakfast that we were no longer going to yell at the kids. This was going to be The Day We Stopped Yelling.

And then.

Maverick wouldn’t stop picking on Asher. Asher wouldn’t stop screaming like he was being skinned alive. The baby wouldn’t let me put her down. Robbie kept having to run to the bathroom. The chaos escalated. The tension level rose. We took deep breaths. Asher tried to drill the baby with his toy drill. He hit her with a metal toy. We breathed more deeply. We told Maverick he had to run laps in the yard. He crossed his arms and said “I will NOT.”

I took a deep, deep breath, holding the baby while Asher clung to my leg. I would not yell. I would be calm. I can’t do this, I thought. 

And that is when I saw it.

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The next door neighbors are doing construction on their house which has prevented Asher from napping for two full weeks. I haven’t mentioned it here, but their damn dog keeps getting out. He’s a friendly dog, and harmless I guess, but he’s huge and hyper and scares the kids because he jumps on them. Last time he got out, I marched next door and asked the construction worker to make sure they don’t let him out because I have little kids and we like to be outside.

Well, this morning I looked out my kitchen window to see that very same dog eating Asher’s poop diaper and strewing it all over our front yard.

And I yelled.

But not at my kids. So does it count? I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know: since this morning, Maverick has acted like a lunatic several times. Normally I would have yelled at him, but because today is The Day We Stopped Yelling, I stopped what I was doing, got down on my knees and looked in his eyes. I took his hands in my hands and quietly asked him to stop doing whatever it was that he was doing, and it worked. Now, do I have time to stop what I’m doing to calmly ask something of my children? No. I also don’t really have time to pee or feed anyone, but it has to be done anyway.

Not yelling is exhausting. But the alternative is unacceptable. Do you yell? Did your parents yell? HELP ME! (I yelled that at you.)