It began when I woke up and realized I forgot to buy coffee for the morning. That's pretty much a tragedy, which started the whole day off on the wrong foot. (Damn you, coffee addiction.) It didn't help that Z just wanted to mess with Bodhi while I fixed the snack they wanted, which pretty much nixed me doing any morning Yoga at all. Strike two for me. I had to almost drag Z into the truck for a coffee run.
As soon as I had my warm soothing sweet mocha in my hands, I asked Z if we could start our day over. By then I guess I had been so much of a jerk, that his reply was an automatic and stink-eyed, "No." I took responsibility for my jerkishness and decided I wasn't going to let our day continue like that.
I am not quite sure where things went wrong, but through out the day, we kept butting heads.
He'd knock Bodhi down while looking me in the eye. I'd respond all wrong. He'd do it again and I'd yell. He wouldn't get ready for the pool. I threatened not to go. Wrong, just wrong. Over and over.
My poor mom was there to witness our mini-epic battles of our wills. She had packed such a beautiful lunch in a cooler for our pool trip, so I was determined to go enjoy the day. Attitude be damned. Or so I thought.
We got to the pool, and being 100 degrees outside, I was hot and flustered and still annoyed. At least I'd have help and he'd get to play with Grandma, while I wandered around with Bodhi.
I swear, between the heat, and our strong-willed nature Z and I were just not seeing eye to eye. It's supposed to be me who lets it go and does the right thing. You know, the whole "be the change you want to see" attitude.
The whistle blew and it was time for a break. He knocked his brother down for the last time, I had decided. I took the opportunity to pack our stuff up and leave. We'd been there for hours, enjoyed our picnic, Daddy was about home, and honestly I was done. He didn't want to leave. By then I was afraid if I didn't go the day would end worse than it began.
We got to the truck, and he started saying bad words, just to piss me off. I responded by screaming at him. I was so angry I didn't care. It wasn't about power, it was about pure unadulterated anger, seething, with the hundred degree weather adding to the steam under my collar. We yelled in the truck as my mom tried to make the peace. I almost wanted to yell a her to stay out of it, but I looked back and saw her heart breaking. By then, all thoughts of peace were a distant memory. I decided to try and be quiet.
Gladly, the ride home gave me some time to simmer down a little. I promised him food, we sat down to eat. Grandma headed out and I took the boys to the bath. By then, I was trying my hardest not to be fake, but also not to be a jerk, so I said as little as possible. He felt me, steaming, and didn't even mess with his brother until we got out of the bath. I asked him to sit in his room, okay, I made him, before I lost it again. I was determined for us to cool off.
Finally, he came downstairs, and I went to take his brother to bed. The whole time, I was dreading putting him to bed. Then I walked out of the room and saw that Daddy had beat me to begin putting him to bed. Whew.
He called for me to read him a story. I decided to take my armor off and surrender. I lay down and we made eye contact. We both felt the sting of our tired defeat.
I asked him, "What happened today? How can we make this better? What did I do wrong? Be honest. Tell me the truth, please."
He replied very quietly, "You didn't listen to me."
I asked if he could tell me how.
"You make me drink water when I'm not thirsty. You made me go when I didn't want to go."
Tears swelled in my eyes. He was right. Not only did I not listen to him most of the day, I didn't trust him to meet his needs. I wasn't showing him respect, and he wasn't showing it to me. Many moments of how I didn't listen flashed in my mind. (Well, besides it being a hundred degrees, and wanting him to drink water, that was a talk for another time.)
I asked him if we could hug and kiss and start our day over today, and tomorrow. He smiled, hugged me tight, kissed me, and all the frustration melted away. I should've done this earlier, I thought, but anger can get the best of me sometimes.
I told him, "Let's work on using the word listen with each other. If I'm not listening, please remind me. If you're not listening, I will remind you. Let's make it that simple. Okay?"
We picked up A Light in the Attic, and read poetry until his eyes got heavy. We said goodnight, and I sang and tickled him to sleep. By then, I wasn't angry, but felt remorse. I watched him sleep a while before I slipped downstairs to watch a movie with Daddy.
Today is a new day, and we've begun again. We've already reminded each other to listen, and I've written the word on my hand.
The least I can do is listen, and really pay attention to him, and my anger when it arises, and let it burn off appropriately.
I am grateful for his honesty. I am grateful that we can talk. I am grateful for this beautiful growing boy, that teaches me to pay attention and listen, even if it takes me all day.