I've been a Mom for about 12 years now, and I understand that kids are programmed to test limits, explore boundaries, and try things on for size. Most of the time, I accept this with the kind of resignation that comes from beating one's head against a metaphorical brick wall. Eventually one learns that brick is unyielding because it is brick, and that the end result of repeated blunt force trauma to the maternal psyche is one heck of an emotional headache.
So I roll with the punches. I answer questions that I've answered a thousand times before. I resist the urge to say "Because I SAID so" or "Because I'm your mother, THAT'S why". I try to encourage cooperation by respecting their need to feel that they have some control over their own lives. I give them options. I pick my battles. But sometimes, I just want my kids to do what I say, when I say, how I say. Yesterday was one of those days.
It has been an insanely busy and incredibly stressful day. We left the house at 8:00 am and when we finally arrived home, we were both emotionally and physically exhausted. We headed into the bedroom to change into lounging clothes, both sighing as we peeled the damp and binding denim from our middle aged bodies. We collapsed upon the bed and commenced a half-hearted debate about who was going to cook supper, knowing full well that we would most likely be prevailing upon one of the many wonderful establisments that will bring food and drink to our doorstep. The boys had been instructed to remove their filthy, sweaty clothes and hit the shower.
But kids have this kind of sixth sense that enables them to discern exactly when parents are incabable of enforcing a given directive. They know when we are enfeebled by life. They busily employed every tactic known to them in purposeful avoidance of said directive. Husband and I rolled our eyes at one another, but neither of us made a move to rise and deal with the situation. When the harmless dilly dallying turned to bickering over who would shower first, (a matter of great import, given the ferocity to which this argument escalated) I sighed, my lassitude turning to irritation. So without moving a muscle, I slipped into the barking efficiency of a drill sergeant. That is to say, I attempted to effect a response with the only faculty I was able to summon at the moment. "BOYS!!!!!!!!!!!!! Quit bickering this instant!! Randall...YOU go FIRST! You have TEN MINUTES to wash up and get out! DO NOT WASH YOUR HAIR WITH SOAP! DO NOT LEAVE THE SHAMPOO BOTTLE OPEN ON THE BOTTOM OF THE TUB! DO NOT LEAVE THE SOAP IN THE DRAIN! HANG UP YOUR TOWEL! DO NOT LEAVE YOUR UNDERWEAR ON THE BATHROOM FLOOR! Andrew, stay OUT of the bathrooom until it YOUR turn!!"
I turned to husband with a self-satisfied air, only to find him smirking at me. "What?" I asked. He opened his mouth and with perfect intonation that left no doubt as to whom he was impersonating, bawled,"RESPECT MAH AUTHORI-TAH!!"And darn him...I laughed. And he laughed. And I laughed even harder because he is such a dork that he doesn't even keep it to himself when he thinks he has said something very funny or clever. He has no problem letting everyone know he cracks himself right the Hell up. So pretty soon we were both laughing so hard we could hardly breathe and my irritation was gone.
He totally killed my bitch vibe.
I hate that.
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