I’m not an easily-angered person. Not much makes me mad. But having kids seems to have awakened an occasional angry side to me that I didn’t know existed. I love my boys more than I thought possible, and they make me happier than I can even describe, but sometimes they make me want to put my fist through a wall. Pretty sure I’m not supposed to say that out loud or write about, but it’s true. I think most anger-inducing actions fit into four basic categories.
Creating intentional messes. The other day they were pretending Clark’s chair was toast and they were smearing tuna, which they were pretending was butter, all over the chair. Of course it doesn’t stay on the chair, but falls to the floor, chunky and disgusting. If you don’t know what it’s like to clean tuna up off a carpet, you’re lucky. I love all their pretending, but they know this is something they shouldn’t be doing—they see the mess they’re making. They know it’s not nice to me because I always tell them, usually through clenched teeth while I clean up something gooey and/or sticky from an inconvenient place. Their giggles usually make me so happy, but when they giggle about making a mess, when they know what they are doing, I am not a giggle fan.
Another thing that makes me mad is when they’re mean to each other, specifically when the mean is unprovoked. Sometimes one of them will be having a fun time playing alone and the other one purposefully comes along and pulls a jackass move simply out of boredom or just plain jackassery. For example, Clark loves to pretend everything is a hockey puck, and often it is a little shamrock from a necklace that is his puck. He was happily pushing his shamrock around, being a commentator at his imaginary hockey game, and Cal came over, picked up the shamrock, and flung it behind the couch. What a little punk! Why would you do that to your brother? Anger.
Another anger-inducing situation is when they disobey me and then laugh when I’m frustrated. When I’m telling them to come over to me for something and they stand there, saying they’re tiptoeing to me, or walking backwards to me and they actually aren’t moving, and smoke is welling up in my ears, and then they laugh. The smoke empties. In public is the worst because it’s also dangerous for them to not come to me immediately. Often when I’m in a hurry, they think I’m being funny because I’m doing things quickly and asking them to speed up. They must think that laughing at me in distress makes me funnier.
The last one is actually a different form of anger; it’s mostly incredulous and often comic frustration. I cannot believe how long it takes me to do something simple most days. I’m interrupted so many times that it’s nearly funny. I feel like I’m looking at a movie of myself flailing around trying to do 47 things at one time and there’s a laugh track with it. This often involves taking two hours to make scrambled eggs and toast because I keep having to stop to put Cal on the toilet, off the toilet, clean up the floor he peed all over, apply sock gloves to Clark and then cheer for him each time he scores his imaginary hockey goals, change Clark’s diaper, wipe noses, turn on Jimmy Buffet for Cal, clean up the spilled milk, start laundry, change laundry…you get the idea.
As I said, these quick feelings of anger are somewhat new to me, as a laid-back-in-general type of person. But they are canceled out by so many moments of love, fun, pride, and downright amusement that they are of course worth it. The other night, while saying prayers, Clark prayed out of the blue, “Help Mommy not have seizures,” which of course made me proud and sad at the same time. I hope the boys learn not to hurt each other, how to hurry when we need to hurry, and to not laugh at people in distress, so hopefully those instances of frustration will diminish. I have this feeling that different ones will emerge as they grow, but it doesn’t matter. I have to remember most importantly of all that they are always watching me and that I am their model for how to handle frustration and anger, so I need to only punch that hole in my imaginary wall and ease off on the steam pouring out my ears.
P.S. You would not believe how long it took me to complete this entry.
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