When the kids were little, there was plenty of frustration. The bus would come to get one of the boys for school and his arm would be somehow wedged between the grill and hood of the car (Why not stick your arm into a mysterious, dark crevice up to your elbow?) or they would take micro-steps to the bus stop and they would miss the bus, again. There were the limp, dead weight bodies that collapsed when we were trying to cross a busy intersection and the times I had to wade in the fountain in front of the doctor’s office to drag a giggling and evasive three-year-old to dry land. Yep, plenty of frustration. I was aggravated.
As the years went on, that frustration—which I like to call “wanting to wring your child’s neck”—was only amplified. Those were the ding-dong ditch years, which would have been fine if my kids didn’t get busted by an irate neighbor every single time—and if I didn’t have to calm an irate neighbor every single time. Middle school is when they learned the joys of illicit fireworks and playing the “pass out” challenge. These were the beginning of the boundary-pushing years and the talk-back years when the kids were experimenting with calling me “stupid” under their breath and walking out of a room mumbling something about hoping I’d die.
And, alas, the high school years, that magical time when they start experimenting with alcohol and ignoring the rules of the road. They’re not smuggling toilet paper in their backpacks for a night of hijinks; they’re smuggling gummies and Reds in their backpacks for a night of vomiting. I can be gone for two hours and when I get home my house smells like Axe (never out of style) and the stink of whatever the girls spritz on themselves these days. And when I question my missing tchotchke, I learn, once again, that I’m paranoid, and I’m ruining my kid’s life.
I swear I used to be cool in high school and college—and I might have had a little less cache in graduate school, but I still rocked it (that’s how I remember it…). And, as a mother of young children, I was the room mom who garnered the most hugs, and my sons puffed their chest out when I came in to work at the library. Now, a mom of teens, I have become, more or less, a living breathing credit card and fridge-filler—and that’s about it.
So, I’m allowed to get aggravated when I ask them to do something that takes about 13 seconds and they give me that exaggerated, exasperated eye roll; I’m allowed to get aggravated when I yell for them to help unload the groceries, and they go in the bathroom for the exact amount of time it takes me to empty the car by myself; I’m allowed to get aggravated when they tell me I “wouldn’t understand” such and such because I was born in the “nineteen-hundreds.”
And I’m allowed to positively seethe when they soliloquize about how there’s no wage gap and how feminism is just man-hating. About how QAnon is not really a conspiracy theory. How Covid’s not their problem and how wearing masks can hurt your lungs….
When do I finally lose my shit though? When I have that epiphany, over and over and for the bajillionth time, that they have baited me and stood back to enjoy the watch-mom-rant-show—and that I’ve fallen for it. Again.
And this, my friends, is when I know I need a rage room.
If you’ve never heard of one, a rage room (also known as an anger room or a smash room) is a “safe place for people to shatter away their anger – literally. You can hurl a plate across a room, take a sledgehammer to an old computer or kiss a framed photo of your ex goodbye with a golf club.” Unfortunately, though there are hundreds in the U.S. and you can find at least one in Dubai or Buenos Aires, there is no accessible rage room in my neck of the woods.
No matter. I’ll make my own. All I need is a grande hatchet, a box cutter, and a sledge hammer—because I’ve already got a basement full of broken 150-lb. television sets. I’ve got Aunt Evelyn’s upright piano that’s missing three keys and plenty of leaves to tables I swear I don’t own. I have a 20-year-old washing machine that rips clothes, at least three bunk bed ladders (we don’t have bunk beds), and bins upon bins of broken toys that are now home to dead moths and spider eggs. I am ready to bust some shit up.
I’m just waiting for the next time. Which if I know them—and if I know me—will be pretty soon. I might even invite some other moms of teens to decompress in my smashable lair. I will supply the safety goggles and tire-irons—and they can supply the rage.