Max has been bad lately. The kind of bad that makes eye contact with me from across a crowded room and pointedly looks away when I motion for him to come to me. The kind of bad that may finally give in and do what I say but only after an exasperated grunt with arms folded across his chest. Oh, man. He’s just been getting on my nerves.
This morning was just a continuation of a weekend of disobedience. He antagonized Kendra relentlessly on the way to drop her off at school. Finally, the days of repeating myself, yelling, pleading, negotiating, reasoning, ignoring, and punishing caught up with me. When they argued while I was trying to drive, I blew my top.
I yelled at them and tried to keep my car between the lines. It was something to the effect of how they need to listen to me and stop being bad and I’m trying to drive the car and blah, blah, blah…
Well, the “blah, blah, blah” is apparently all my son heard, because as soon as I stopped yelling to take a breath and collect myself, he reached over and pinched Kendra.
She screamed. My blood pressure was through the roof.
I did something impulsive – something drastic. I told Max to give me his special fart-in-a-can putty that he had just gotten at a birthday party we attended over the weekend. He had been itching to play with it. He was taking it with him to entertain him for the day. I told him to give it to me. I rolled down the passenger window, and I threw that fart putty right out.
He started crying. ”Oh, no you don’t,” I said. ”If anyone should be crying, it should be me. I’m the one who has a little boy who won’t listen to me. You don’t cry, or I’ll throw something else out the window.”
Well, he stopped.
The rest of the ride to school was very quiet. After Kendra got out of the car, Max and I had a talk.
“Max, what’s wrong with you? Why are you sitting back there making that face?”
“Because I’m sad.”
“Why are you sad?”
“Because you threw my toy out the window.”
“That’s right. That made you feel sad. You know what? That’s just how I feel when you don’t listen to me. I feel sad just like that,” I told him.
I think I got through to him. I saw him make the connection.
I’m just so thankful no one witnessed my creative parenting this morning, especially a police officer. If he didn’t get me for reckless driving, surely I would have gotten pulled over for littering.
And I can imagine the scene that would have ensued. Kendra would have immediately started wailing and begging the officer not to take her mother to jail. And Max, well, I think Max would have sat back there with a smug look on his face.
A look that said Officer, please forgive my mother. I’m not sure what gets into her sometimes. Go easy on her. Oh, and would you mind kindly retrieving my fart putty from the ditch over there? Carry on.