Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm Only Human -- and So is Thomas

This post contains "light" religious content, a ghost (my mom) from my past, and a crazed woman, played by Frankie.

Oh, we had bad scene in Frankie's kitchen today.

After we had our Thanksgiving feast, Bob and I were doing dishes and putting food away. I asked Thomas to take Jerry potty. Thomas is 12. He's at that age where he's pushing boundaries. He's beginning to use his voice when he doesn't want to do something. He yelled at me that I was being mean. Then he just went off on a rant, yelling at me the whole time.

When this happened, I had taken a seat and watched him reacting. I nearly scared the Thanksgiving dinner right out of him. I jumped up out of that chair faster than you can say boo, was in his face, and, not yelling, but with a firm voice stated: Don't you DARE yell at me, young man. You do as you are told. You were asked to take the dog out, and I expect you to do it. You will never be allowed to yell at me. Okay, the firm voice is putting it mildly. It was a mad woman's voice. Not yelling, yet very scary.

The look on Thomas' face was complete horror. I glanced at Bob and his eyes were as big as saucers.

Not one of my best mom moments. Nope. I felt about two inches high. No, I felt lower than a pregnant ant. (My friends and I used to use that term in elementary school.)

Thomas started crying as he took Jerry potty. When he came in, he went straight to his room. Bob quietly took over clean up duties. I sat in the table with my head in my hands. I wasn't crying, but close.

You see, my mother, who has been gone for 13 years now, came to our Thanksgiving dinner today. That's the kind of crap (ohh, bad word there) that she used to pull on her kids. On me. I vowed I would never act that way.

I blew it big time. We teach our kids that we have to be able to trust them. We teach our children that when they screw up, it will take awhile to build trust up again. So play that in reverse. How on earth will Thomas be able to trust his mother when she rants like a crazed woman.

Apologies were said, hugs were given, but I have felt deflated the rest of the evening.

I have tried to make it all better in my mind. I don't hit my child, so I was thinking: well, at least you didn't physically hit him. I bet that a hit or slap would have been easier to handle than a mom losing it. Emotional harm is just as bad, if not worse, sometimes, than the physical stuff.

Rationalizing again, what I said wasn't that bad. True. He does not have permission to yell at me. He is not allowed to show such disrespect. Period. But --as Pee Wee Herman once said, there's always a big butt involved -- I did it in a very negative, scary, bad, meanie mom kinda-way.

He's over it. He sulked for awhile and then went on with his business. He's happily playing around in the basement, close to me, with a smile on my face. I need to get over it.

Thing is, I don't like acting like my mom. I did grow up in an emotionally abusive home. I have tried my hardest to overcome all of her responses. This was pure MY MOM all the way. It's not healthy for anyone.

The other thing is: Thomas is 12. He's going through one helluva time right now. Stretching those boundaries, becoming himself, finding himself, sharing his wants, needs, desires and frustrations in new ways. Whining. A lot. Enough that one night last week I told Bob that I cannot deal, please do something with Thomas for supper because I need peace. I need quiet. I need no whines.

At this point, my mother just appeared over my shoulder. She just whispered in my ear that you get what you give. And now I can hear her laughing hysterically! You see, I was a whiner. Still am. So he's learned it all from me.

There I am again, lower than a pregnant ant.

On blogs, most people only share the great stuff. I am usually that way. This has been such a hard school year for me in so many ways. The moment Thomas turned 12, it was as if a light switch flipped and he changed. I'm having a hard time dealing with it. Not that he's growing up, but just the attitudes. All our things with animals, sick, dying, running over them with cars -- it's all taken its toll on me.

Gaaaa. I'm picturing Goldie Hawn in Overboard in the water barrel with the blank stare on her face repeatedly chanting buh buh buh buh buh buh.

That's where I feel right now.

My relationship with my son is of highest importance to me. How am I going to earn his trust back. How am I going to deal with his terrible 12s. He's been so easy up to now. Frankly, he's still easy. He's a good kid. Kind, considerate, extremely compassionate. It's just that he doesn't want to do anything, whines, whines, whines.

Buh, buh, buh, buh, buh.

So what am I thankful for today? This is going to be completely self-centered. I'm thankful I'm human. I'm thankful I screw up. When I screw up, I usually do it BIG, and then I reflect, sulk, think, think and think some more. Then I try to take action to change.

Mom's standing at my shoulder again telling me, "God won't give you more than you can handle." For my secular friends, I'll translate that: The universe won't give you more than you can handle. Or perhaps life won't give you more. (I choose God, but that's who I am.)

I'm thankful that I love my son so much that I feel like shee it right now because I hurt his feelings. I'm thankful that I'm human, so that I can learn and grow from my mistakes.

I'm mostly thankful that he has forgiven me.

God, I love that boy.

Just to share how I feel completely:


Heather said...

Thomas will be fine. I've had similar outbursts that reminded me of my mother and scared the crap out of me. The difference, that my mother never did, was the apology after, the discussion about MUTUAL respect, and the fact that my outbursts are few and far between. We talk about stress, and respect, and expectations for THEM and for ME, and how nobody's perfect.

Being one step closer to a better parent is still being a better parent.

Bonni said...

Thanks for sharing. I, too, have had a similar experience this week. I'm so glad I'm not the only one. Kids are forgiving. I think the best thing we can do is to talk it out with them, point out the good and bad of what has happened. Everyone has days when they are irritated, frustrated, overwhelmed. My mom never told us what was going on. We were just expected to get over whatever upset was going on and things were supposed to be just peachy. I think by explaining and discussing with the kids, we are showing them that we sometimes make mistakes and we need to be accountable for them. It's a good lesson in communication and life. After all, it's not always easy to deal with what God gives us in life. Things are bound to get bumpy every once in a while.

Kamrin said...

I agree with Bonnie and Heather, the big difference is that you recognized what you had done, took responsibility, and tried to make right. One day, Thomas will blow up at someone, then he will remember how it felt to have it happen to him, and he will know what to do to try and fix it. I think it is a valuable lesson for all of us. I still think you are a great mom, even if you channel the less savory relatives every once and a while! Much love to you!

Meg_L said...

I'm sorry that you channeled your mom in dealing with Thomas.

As for the age he's at and what comes of it, I can tell you that I went through this with Boy and am now dealing with it with Girl. She's a whole lot worst than he was (or so it seems to me). The only thing keeping me going day to day is the knowledge that one day, when he was about 14 or 15, Boy just decided to change how he was dealing with stuff, and it was night and day.

What I'm saying, is that it's the age. Hang in there.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

I am really impressed with the fact that you could talk to Thomas about the blow up. Holidays are stressful for all of us. Sometimes we blow it momentarily--but then, if we talk about what happened, we make our kids more resilient.
I think in the past, parents like yours and mine, felt that they had project that they were right about everything they did, so they never told us how they felt when they blew it.

On Wednesday, N. had a friend over. About an hour before we had to leave for town for errands and Taekwando, they went outside. Forty-five minutes later, I found myself calling and calling them, but they didn't come. As it turned out, they arrived home just two minutes before we needed to leave. But I was upset--and worried. So I yelled at N. about responsibility and how scared I was because there is construction going on nearby.

When I recovered my wits, I apologized for my over-reaction and then we talked about a way to prevent this worry from happening again. I will buy a whistle! :) The boys are very inventive. They forgave me and I forgave them.
They learned something about adults--that we really do get worried about kids. So all's well that ends well.

We can never be perfect, but I think you've come a long way from starting in an emotionally abusive household!

Look at the strengths you've developed.

Hillary said...

As Bob Newhart says, "STOP IT!!!"


Frankie, *every* mother has moments like that.

You're right, the key thing was that you calmed down and apologized. Don't worry about earning his trust back. At least, not any more than he has to worry about earning yours. (The whole ugly scene began with his yelling rant.)

I think it's important that he realizes his part in this. You did not explode out of nowhere. His behavior was out of line.

The whole thing would have been avoided if: a) he had obeyed you, b) he had expressed his dislike respectfully, c) your husband had stepped in when Thomas began to be rude.

But, that being said, you can't apologize for his behavior. Nor can you give him a non-apology: "I'm sorry I exploded, but if you hadn't ____________ this wouldn't have happened."

It is a great opportunity to talk with your dh about the scene and what to do if this occurs again.

You handled this well. You calmed down. You apologized. You're moving on.

Hang in there!

Dawn said...

I had a post almost exactly like this except my moment of meanness was over school work.

I think I'll just echo everyone else. We break sometimes and it isn't horrible if sometimes our kids see that so they can realize they're dealing with people that have their limits.

Knittlebittle said...

Frankie, I called Beeze a smart ass a few days ago. Ok, so he was one. But he didn't really know what it meant but he knew me using "ass" couldn't be good.

You make up and go on.

Angela said...

Hugs my dear! We have all had those not so shining moments. The difference is that we recognize them and apologize for it,unlike our parents ever did. I try my hardest to get the same point across with a quiet but firm voice, but I am not always able to find if quickly enough and sometimes the kids get the knee-jerk reaction. THem seeing me work through it helps them try to do the same when they are frustrated and angry. Don't beat yourself up...there rae lessons in all things!

Kate in NJ said...

I can feel your pain,we know better,
but in times of great stress we often fall back into the habits of how we
were parented (is that even a word?)
instead of how we know we should parent. Be kinder to yourself, you apologized, and need to move on.