How Was YOUR Weekend? (originally published June 2007)
Let me begin by saying I hope everyone had lovely weekends, because you are about to embark on a voyage through my own living hell. I've discovered if I share these things with people who understand the tragedies and traumas seem to take on a more humorous slant. It may take a while for my brain to accept it, but it helps the process. So, grab a cup of coffee or snack. Here goes.
The boys and I had a really rocky end of the week. From about Wednesday (when we picked up the new car), it's like we've all been tap-dancing on each others' last nerve. If it isn't Jack and Charlie pummeling each other, it's Sam in their faces instigating problems. Of course, all of these situations do nothing for Mom's mood. In an effort to promote some positive, goodwill between the four of us, I sprang for Dairy Queen after their game Friday night. Saturday dawned with the promise of a new day and new, ice-cream bribed good behavior.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
I spent a majority of the morning cleaning like a crazy person, simply because I'd neglected to keep up with everything late last week. We had a graduation open house to attend @ 3, so around 2, I hopped in the shower so we could get there (reasonably) on time. I am just out of the shower when Sam comes up to tell me "there's something weird going on with my car." Sam's developed this quirky little game lately, where he tells me something is "wrong" then when I go to check it out, he gives me "Ha-ha, gotcha!" So, as neglectful as it sounds... I blew it off. The second time he came up with the same line, I threw on my clothes and ran my dripping-wet head downstairs. I heard him mumble something like, "I'm sorry I broke your window." Then I notice he's on the verge of tears; yet still I run to the garage, telling myself that any minute, he'll give me the "Ha-ha, gotcha!"
Again, I couldn't have been more wrong.
It appears “stone-throwing” was on his agenda for the day. And somehow a stone got thrown waaaaaaaaaaaay too close to the car. And shattered the back windshield. We're not talking a point of impact and cracks radiating out... nope... it's actually shattered into a million little pieces--held together (thankfully) by the safety glass film. Having had a stressful few days already with the boys, I immediately burst into tears and ran back into the house. Sam, seeing me do this, also bursts into tears and runs into the house, not stopping until he reaches his closet where he chooses to hide out for a while. I think I hyperventilated for about a minute-and-a-half before I could finally pull myself together. I found Sam and assured him I still loved him very much, but Mom was very, very upset at the moment. Now we must fast-forward a couple of hours or so to the point at which I allowed the boys back outside (once it w as clear we weren't going to be able to drive anywhere safely). I had given them explicit and specific instructions to stay away from the window, the car in general... they were to leave it all alone. I believe my words were something like, "Don't look at it, don't touch it, don't breathe on it... don't even think about the car. Just stay away." Then I hear a noise that sounds very much like a car door shutting. I heard it a few more times as I headed to the garage, and found young Charlie opening and slamming the back passenger door, in (what I believe to be) an effort to get the shattered window to crumble and fall into the car. Of course, he's performing this fantastic trick for not only his brothers, but two neighbor girls. Amazingly, I ordered him into the house and avoided turning into a screaming banshee. That was around 5 o'clock, and he proceeded to follow me around the house for the next 60 minutes pleading to go back outside and play -- in a variety of formats: whining, crying, shouting, etc. Needless to say, he didn't see so much as a blade of grass the rest of the evening.
So, today, I woke up thinking it's got to get better, right? Do I even need to say it? Sure, what the heck... I couldn't have been more wrong. Yet again.
We dealt with each other marginally well most of the day as I finished some cleaning chores from yesterday (of course, we didn't make it to church since even the lightest rainfall would have wreaked havoc on the car window). Right now, though, as I look around the room, it doesn't even look like I did any cleaning since we were sequestered indoors all day. In desperation, I bought a movie on PayPerView, which kept them quiet and occupied for a while. While I was upstairs putting laundry away, I heard Charlie in the kitchen, and quickly shooed him out since he's developed a nasty habit of trying to steal my beloved diet Cherry Coke. A little while later, I opened the refrigerator only to find a little brown puddle on one of the shelves, which has trickled down to the shelf below and collected in a HUGE puddle under the produce drawers on the bottom. Apparently, Charlie was caught in mid-heist of a DCC, so he put it back in the box. Unfortunately, he'd already started t o open it, and when he put it back in the box (horizontally) it slowly emptied in the fridge. I made him help with the clean up. Good times.
At another point of the afternoon, Jack and Sam got into a scuffle, and Jack stood there repeatedly smacking him. I then asked him if he thought Sam liked being smacked, and asked how he liked it as I repeatedly swatted him on the arm (not hard, naturally, but I'm sure it was annoying). He looks at me and says, "You're abusing me!" My immediate "thought bubble" was "Oh, no you di'int." I very quietly, calmly but sternly informed him he has no place to make that kind of accusation, and he will never utter those words again. Thankfully, he sought me out about five minutes later, and apologized for what he said. I said, "Jack, you know the difference between what I did and abuse, don't you?" He said yes, and was like, "I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry." That's all I need right now.
After dinner, I finally let them outside. The girl from next door was out playing with the granddaughter of a couple across the way. Both girls are about 9 or 10 and very sweet -- and I give them credit for putting up with the boys and their often-obnoxious behavior. About a half-hour later, I see the boys run through the screened-in porch and come in the house. I noticed it was raining, and figured they just had the good sense to get indoors rather than playing in it. Then the doorbell rings. It's the grandmother from across the street. She asked to speak with me outside for a minute, away from the boys. We've gotten to know each other a little bit, and she's very nice, so I wondered what was up. She told me the girls were really upset/crying because one of the boys said something mean to Alexis (who happens to be half African-American)... something along the lines that he "didn't like her because she's got dark skin." I was absolutely mortified. I mean, where the HELL did he come up with that? We talked for a few minutes, and she was so sweet about it; she said she knew he didn't mean it, but it still hurt Alexis' feelings and she thought I'd want to know. I thanked her for telling me, and assured her this was completely unacceptable behavior from the boys. Meanwhile, I hear the boys running around the house, whooping it up and having a grand ol' time while I was standing outside. This, of course, adds to my embarrassment, because now not only do I have a neighborhood-known vandal/juvenile delinquent, but also a pint-sized racist living with me, and they're showing NO remorse for their transgressions. I came back in the house and lined the boys up on the couch. Of course, they're all like, "We didn't do anything!" but when the full story came out, the girls had initiated a "game" where they asked the boys to choose who they liked better of the two. Charlie happened to choose one girl (our neighbor) and the other asked him why he didn't choose her. He answered her with, "I don't know... because you've got dark skin." I think he was just randomly choosing a difference between the girls, who happen to be about the same size and wear glasses. He simply had no idea what kind of statement it made. I mean, the boys have played with both girls a zillion times last summer, and race has never been an issue they even know about. After we were done talking, I marched them across the parking lot so they could apologize to the girls. The grandmother was out there too, and after they mumbled their apologies, I told them all that Charlie didn't mean what he said at all, and that he didn't realize how bad it was to say that.
I wanted to die. I mean... bring on the huge, gaping hole in the earth and swallow me right up. Please.
Somehow I managed to live, and got through the remainder of the evening without another incident. I drowned my sorrows in a bag of popcorn and Diet Cherry Coke after they went to bed. My splitting headache had pretty much gone away, and I headed to bed myself with the Sunday crossword puzzle to relax before passing out from sheer exhaustion.
I forgot to mention, on Saturday (prior to the car incident) as I was knee-deep in laundry downstairs, Jack came down and announced quite matter-of-factly, "Charlie just said 'f**k.'"
After I re-started my heart and picked my jaw up off the floor, we had a lovely conversation, during which I discovered one of their school buddies had been teaching them new and interesting words yet again at recess. Charlie had no idea that not only was this a bad word, it just happened to be the GRANDMOTHER of all bad words. Let’s just say he’s now up to speed on where we stand on dropping the “f-bomb.”
Come to think of it, it's pretty ironic that he made his debut saying the word just hours before I was mentally screaming it after the window was smashed. You know, I’ve often quoted Clark W. Griswold from "Christmas Vacation," following his Christmas Eve tirade against his cheapskate boss, but it's always so appropriate..."Halleluja, holy shit, where's the Tylenol?" This was such an occasion.
The next morning, in an effort to keep my wits about myself, and further learn to take things in stride, I brewed a cup of tea from the Tazo line, called "Calm." The copy on the teabag pouch reads... "A single cup of Tazo Calm has been known to have the same effect as sitting for 45 minutes in a mountain meadow on a sunny day with your shoes off." I’m thinking of asking them to change it to, "A single cup of Tazo Calm has been known to have the same effect as throwing back 16 tequila shots in the middle of the afternoon as a more socially-acceptable alternative to beating your children who have succeeded in shredding your very last workable nerve over a span of several days by fighting, arguing, cursing, causing rampant mass destruction on innocent vehicles and throwing out errant racial slurs to unsuspecting little girls while you wait for a giant hole in the earth to swallow you up and take you away from the misery... with your shoes off."