This was the culmination of weeks of drama, stemming from a combination of my lack of patience and normal kid brattiness. We had reached an impasse. They didn’t want me to be their mother anymore. The feeling was mutual.
“Mommy always yells at us,” they said to their dad. They neglected to mention that prior to the yelling, there was always at least three instances of cajoling, pleading or just straight asking. Then, all bets are off.
The yelling is a combination of any or all of the following basic factors:
A. I am interested in nothing my kids are interested in and vice versa; we have run out of activities chiefly because I am not a boy.
B. It’s my birthday tomorrow and I don’t care for this much responsibility at this juncture in my life.
C. A momentary forgetting that my glorious children are small people, not merely chess pieces I can move around at will.
D. I have red hair.
Is it my fault? Yes. Is it theirs? Absolutely. Is the whole thing an anti-Kodak moment, yes it certainly is. Suffice to day there is no Hallmark card for what was said between parent and child this week.
The ultimate insult came when Samson the younger, he of the rippling muscles and practicing basketball more than Kobe (minus the whole Achilles thing) said:
“I want to live with daddy, I want to go back to our old house with daddy and I want you to stay in the new house by yourself.”
You and me both kid.
Except at the time my reaction was slightly more personal, as I left the lobby of the diner (where this vile rhetoric had spouted from the mouth of the child I very painfully gave birth to) went outside and sobbed. I cried until my mascara ran and my body shook and I turned to a G-d I hoped was still there and said “Help me, you mean fucker. Why don’t they want me? Just help.”
In short, I blasphemed. And it worked.
All at once I was struck calm and I went back into the diner where the kids and their father had by now been seated. And the kids seemed upset that I was upset and we talked and we cried and we all owned up to our part, while daddy patted their knees under the table congratulating them on their great communication and no one patted mine.
Then we ate burgers and fries and drank juices and by the end of the meal they wanted me as their mother again and I them as my children, though we all had to shed more tears to get there. In public. In the diner. With onlookers, which is not the ideal way to resolve family problems, but when these things erupt one cannot always be picky about venue.
I resolved that even if it involves playing hours of basketball with the younger and climbing trees with the older, two activities I hate almost equally, I will do it; and made good on that promise when we happened to be able to visit our old house the following day; a place still alive with the memories of a mommy and daddy who were still together, and so yearned for in more ways than just lots of trees to climb and a basketball hoop. Sitting at that table, I knew I would do whatever was necessary to keep these precious children close, as at least I am older and wiser enough to know that soon the hormonal winds of adolescence will spirit them away from me forever.