Thursday, November 09, 2006

baddish to worse

Every time the weather threatens out there, I get this claustrophobic anxiety about survivng the afternoon indoors with a toddler and a six-month old. Usually the monster in my head is bigger than the one in the external world but yesterday we went from baddish to worse.

It started out innocently enough, Hamish throwing Play-Doh across the kitchen while I talked on the phone with an old colleague, picking up bits of hairy clay in vain. Either I wasn't in the mood to use the peppy distraction method that usually works wonders around here, or he had had just a few too many grams of sugar in his organic maple vanilla yogurt to go with his non-napping ways.

By six-thirty, I was unwrapping his fingers from the toy he'd grabbed from Stella for the second time, my face still throbbing from the smack he'd given me with his Ugly Doll, explaining loudly enough for the neighbors to hear that he is never to snatch a toy from Stella when she's playing with it, that he is to share, or let me know that he wants it, while wrestling him into a diaper to put him to bed extra early. All this while Stella wailed in her bouncy seat in the other room.

When I finally melted into the sofa twenty minutes later, nursing the baby as Hamish slept, I got to berating myself for losing my temper. Now this is the thing. I know that the scene I describe is typical, but what about the guilt afterwards? Is that typical too, or do most moms not bat an un-mascaraed eyelash over a spat like that? Is there an article I missed on the subject? When I yell at my kid, and he screams his own anger and frustration, I know we're human, but it creates this chasm between us that kills me.

Hamish often requests that we "read" him stories out of our hands. This ritual grew out of him asking for "one more book" after the lights had been turned off. Instead of turning them back on, I knelt next to his bed and opened my hands like a book and began "reading." So last night in the midst of our insanity, he wanted another one about "the fish," and I was happy to comply in my desperation for a lovey bond.  Even though The Little Mermaid left him in a puddle of frightful tears and we agreed that we'll wait until he's a little older to try it again, he is smitten with the red-haired little vixen, as well as her posse Sebastian and Flounder and so we've been "reading" about them for a couple weeks now.

 Being two, Hamish also stars in these stories, so while Stella occupied herself in the living room, I told him a story about Hamish the clown fish and his Mommy the clown fish and reenacted very poorly what had transpired between us, including how we get angry sometimes but we love each other, and how sorry both fish felt, Hamish fish for not listening to his mommy, and Mommy fish for yelling, and I'm kneeling there spent, I've massacred the dramatic arc, and I'm actually waiting, in my delirium for some cinematic lightbulb to go on over his head, for him to communicate some toddler-esque signal of understanding or contrition but all I got was, "Tell the one about the mermaid."


hubby said...

You're the best mommy. After all the (inevitable?) tension, you still made sure to read to your boy so his last moment before sleep would be one of lovey time with mom.

elise said...

i love you, dear. thank you.

Nicole said...

Oh yes the guilt is there. I've just started reading your blog and I can relate to everything you've written! I have a 4 month old, 4 year old and 6 year old (all boys!). It's so nice to know we're not alone.

Patti said...

I have a 12-year-old and a 24-year-old and the guilt is always there, I think.