The other morning, my son lazily pulled open the drawer to get out silverware to eat his breakfast at 8:58 a.m., even though I had reminded him several times we were leaving the house at 9 a.m. on the dot. I took one look at him, and immediately lost it for 5 long minutes.
He told me I needed to calm down, skipped breakfast, and pouted for a while. But I didn’t care what he thought at all, and this is why.
An hour earlier, as he sat and watched Sponge Bob Square Pants, I reminded him (for the second time) when we were leaving and told him to make his breakfast so he’d be ready. He said he would. Twenty minutes later when I was done eating and heading upstairs to get ready, I reminded him again in a slightly less “calm” tone.
I came down exactly two minutes before we were supposed to leave, and he jumped up and started to make his breakfast. “Nope,” I said. “You’ve had an hour to do this, Addison. I’ve told you too many times. We don’t have time for this.”
He’s fourteen and over 6 feet tall, so I can’t physically make him eat, but I can carry through with consequences if he doesn’t do what he’s told.
“It will just take a second,” he said. But we’ve played this game long enough for me to know it won’t take “just a second.” He is a lumbering 14-year-old who trips over things, and spills something every two seconds, so nothing takes him just a “second.” Or several minutes for that matter. Not to mention the mess I knew he was going to leave behind.
When he pulled open the silverware drawer, I grabbed the door knob so tight, I almost broke it off. “Get your coat and get out the door — we are going now!”
Yes, I was yelling. Yes, he asked me why I always have to freak out about stuff. And yes, that infuriated me further.
But here’s the thing, while it does leave me feeling guilty some of the time when things get to this state, it feels like me losing my shit is the only way my kids know I mean business.
My son is 14 now and we’ve been having this battle since he was a toddler. And my other two kids aren’t immune from this “let’s push mom to the brink” strategy. It’s as if they think, Mom isn’t too upset yet, I can just keep on keeping and ignore her. Life is good and I’ll wait until that vein on her forehead pops out. I still have time.
That’s when I go from 0 to 60 in a under a second. And the problem is, that’s all they see: A mom who gets more mad than she should about picking up dishes or getting out the door. They have a way of blocking out the previous conversations, all the times I’ve asked or reminded them to do something.
They don’t think it’s fair I lose it so easily, but what’s not fair is moms around the world have to be raw in the throat in order to get their kids to comply most of the time. I could be wrong, but it seems it’s more fun for them that way. I’ve no idea why else they push us so far, then act like we are the ones who need to get a grip.
I try, I really do. I don’t like feeling like I have to yell to get my kids to spring into action, but they can make me reach my boiling point like nobody else. They have mastered it. It doesn’t matter if I’ve told them countless times; if they just did what they were asked the first time, our lives would be much easier and I wouldn’t lose my voice all the time. It seems to me that it would be more work to not listen and endure the punishment, their mother tearing their hair out, and bearing her very scary forehead vein, than to do what they are asked.
But my three kiddos keep proving me wrong. Either that, or they like the work — who the hell knows.
I have found something that has worked wonders though. Because no mom likes to start her day with a sore throat from yelling at her kids to get in the freaking car already! The other day my son asked me to take him to is friends house, it was very important he got there at a certain time because they were meeting other kids at the skate park.
I was busy scrolling on Instagram and we were running late. As he was waiting by the door, watching me take my time, he started to get angry with me. When he spoke about it, I asked how he was feeling. “I’m anxious, and getting really mad at you. Why are you being so mean?”
I told him I wasn’t being mean, but I wanted to give him a little taste of the hell I’d been living when it comes to getting him out the door. “If you can be on time for me, I’ll be on time for you. Deal?”
Hell hath no fury like a teenager who’s late to meet up with friends. But is made a difference and now my life is much better — and so is his.