So, we went out for our monthly Absurdly Long and Annoying Day of Grocery Shopping. By the end of it — we always try to end at Trader Joes, because TJ’s always makes everyone feel better about life and ready to go home and face the hour of unpacking and then putting away all of the groceries — something Earth-shaking happened.
Last moment of a long, tense day that involved an awful lot of “the four year old is batsh!t crazy and won’t listen to anyone, but rather runs, spins around like a top, or tries to do both at the same time and becomes a danger to himself and others”. The garbage in the car needs to be emptied. I go, I empty it, I come back, and my wife says “remind me to tell you about what Giovanni said about yelling.”
I promptly forget all about it, because I’m suffering, and screw the world. Let’s get home and make 3-Pizza Dinner. (That’s Pizza Salad, Grilled Pizza Sandwiches, and Pizza Soup, if you’re wondering.) We crash like dead people, get a great night’s sleep, and in the morning, while I’m talking to her in the bathroom (Italian), she tells me the story.
“So, while you were taking out the car garbage yesterday, I pulled one of my jokes on Giovanni,” my wife says. “He asked if we were going to go get Daddy, and I said ‘No, we’re just gonna leave Daddy here.'”
I’m expecting something all cute and fuzzy, and she slaps in the face with a bucket of cold, hard reality: “He said, ‘That’s good. Daddy always yells at me.'”
My heart stopped. I cried, silently, paralyzed. Immediately, a voice in the back of my head says, “I wonder if I ever said anything like that about my stepdad?” Then, I wonder if this is anything like what my Mom is feeling since I told her she’s emotionally abusive. But far more importantly, I realized that as much ‘progress’ as I think I’ve made over the last month, I’ve got a long, long way to go before I can hold myself up as an exemplar of anything.
It only took me one powerful moment of transformation to (almost) completely get over the habit of thumping my son on the cranium to get his attention. I’m determined to make this another — to get over the habit of addressing my son largely in severe tones. I could easily make some argument like “that’s not yelling, THIS IS YELLING!”, but the point isn’t the details. The point is that my son would rather leave me behind at a grocery store than bring me home again.
And yes, we were all stressed and feeling crappy and we all really wanted to be anywhere but what we were…but I can’t help but feel like a four year old can’t really lie about something like that. Which means that I need to get my sh!t together like yesterday.