I Yelled

Posted by: , June 6, 2010 in 10:57 am

yelling mom

I waited till I was somewhat elderly to have a child.  It didn’t feel like I was waiting.  I didn’t think “I’m going to hold off having a kid till it’s almost physically impossible.”  It just never came up really.  I wasn’t one of those girls who planned my wedding at 10 years old or had names picked out for my kids to be.  I grew up at a time where women were saying “We don’t have to get married and have kids, we can do anything!  We can keep our own names and be CEO’s.”   That sounded pretty good to me, not the CEO part but the other parts.  I decided if it came up I’d think about it but if not, no biggie.  My womb wasn’t pulsing in anticipation or anything.

Then, when I was 39, my baby-daddy said, “let’s try and have a kid, we’re getting old, we’re missing the window.”  And I said, “Okay.”  You see, I was pretty sure I had missed the window so what harm would it do to try?  My eggs could finally meet some sperm, not that they’d get involved, and I could look back and say “Well, God knows I tried.  Not meant to be.  My dogs are my children” or something like that.  Then, SURPRISE!  My vengeful, slutty eggs hooked up with the first (and I mean first) sperm that came along and I got pregnant.  As surprised as I was I was also excited.  I’d be a good mom.  I’ll only have the one and well, it would be nice to think about someone other than myself.  And it’s turned out okay for the most part.  I mean, I’m not, like, soccer mom perfect.  I can’t cook or sew and I’ve never been a fan of cartoons but I like my kid most of the time.  I think “play-date” is embarrassing to even SAY but he gets his share.  He has bunk beds even though his room is the size of a Honda Civic.  I took him to Lego-Land in 100 degree heat while at the same time having frickin’ hot flashes.  And yes, I let him have a Mohawk.  A full-on, head shaved, six inch strip of  brick-hard, straight-up Johnny Rotten Mohawk at eight years old.  When we finally shaved it off he looked like a convict and I don’t know which was worse but you get the idea.  I’m a pretty okay Mom.  My biggest challenge has been patience.  On my best day I’m not a patient person and, I don’t know if you’re aware of this but, kids REQUIRE patience.   They test your every last nerve and it’s very difficult to reason with them.  Somehow I’ve remained pretty calm.  Not perfect, but not horrible either.  But here’s the thing, the other night I yelled at my 9 year old, Jack.  I don’t mean I screamed at him for hours on end while looking for my bottle of scotch or anything.  I just yelled “STOP IT!”

I’d asked him to put up the seat in the bathroom and then I heard “bang…bang…bang….bang…bang…” the seat hitting the toilet over and over like some monotonous Morse code for “yell at me immediately.”   And that’s when I yelled “STOP IT” in a really yelly voice.  I hardly ever yell at him.  I’ll speak loudish or serious or exasperated or use my “I mean it” voice or even be sarcastic.  But out and out yelling at him is kind of rare.  Before I had a kid I yelled whenever I wanted.  Mostly at fellow motorists and boyfriends.  I didn’t even think about it.  Who even stopped to think if they deserved it?  I’d feel the need to yell and I’d yell.  End of story.  But the first time I yelled at my kid he visibly quaked and I thought “oh, okay, shouldn’t yell, I’ll work on that.”  So I consciously try NOT to yell at him.  And I mostly succeed.  What led up to me yelling at Jack this time was me asking him, like 14 times, to put on his pajamas then asking him about 20 times to brush his teeth.  Usually I only have to ask three times for each and I can deal with that, but this was one of those nights when he went temporarily deaf.  Then I said “Make sure you go potty and remember to put the seat up please.”   Then, well, the “bang bang bang” and the yell.  I was possessed.  I felt the yell boil up from my feet and blammo, it exploded out of me and shook the house, they probably heard my “STOP IT” in France.   My face was red and my hair stood up on my head.  I  turned around to see who that was that yelled so loud.  Oh, it was me!  It surprised my son when I yelled.  But he wasn’t intimidated by my yelling.  He didn’t immediately hop-to or anything.  He just got mad at me and yelled back.  “I was trying to put it up!” he bellowed in a volume to match my own.

I think it was on Oprah or something where I heard some child expert say “When you fight in front of your children you change who they are.”  I’m pretty sure, according to this theory, yelling at them would have the same effect.  Prior to my yelling “stop it” my son was, no doubt, going to become, I don’t know, the poet laureate of the United States or the next Bono or something and my yelling 86’ed that.  Some neuron in his brain fired and now he’ll torture ants and want to live in my garage till he’s 40.

I’m sure there might be parents out there who never fight in front of, or yell at their kids.  The Amish or polygamous sects or anyone with seriously out of date clothing.  (Or if they are up to date they have got to be on buckets of Valium or have 3 nannies or live in a separate wing or something.)  But I consider myself a fairly decent parent and I yelled at my kid.  This business of changing who they are seems a bit of a nebulous assertion.   So you have one bad day, have a pissy little fight with your husband or wife or yell “stop it” and suddenly you’ve changed in some fundamental way who your child is?  Wow.  The question that plagues me now is; can you change them back?  With…I don’t know…therapy?  Medication?  Guitar Hero 3?   I’m gonna go ahead and guess most people up to now have been changed then.  We would all probably be dressed in flowy white clothes with doves on our heads helping baby seals if our parents just hadn’t yelled.  But they probably did.  Parents are only human after all.  If he was any other person on the planet that I spend this much time with and behaves like he does, all other things being equal, I would be yelling at him like 50 percent of the time.  Or more.  Who else would be allowed to ruin the good towels, lose every jacket he’s ever had, whine for 40 minutes straight or make it so I can’t sneeze without peeing a little without being yelled at?   I always think it’s a miracle I haven’t thrown him out the window. Yet.

From the time WE’RE children we’re taught to be rational, kind, courteous people and just when that’s what we might actually be…we have kids.  In what way does that make sense?   Trying to be rational with a kid up to, and I’m going to say 9 because my kid’s 9 and he still doesn’t understand why he can’t have his own air horn is almost impossible and that is frustrating.    So once in a blue moon I yell.  I don’t beat him or belittle him or stick him in the basement or make him buy me cigarettes.  He eats refrigerators full of food every three days and gets to go on field trips.  Frankly, sometimes I think he is a little too confident I’ll love him no matter what.  But because I yelled “STOP IT” in his ninth year he won’t be a Doctor Without Borders.

Occasionally I wonder what about me my son will pick to complain about when he’s older.  You know, like when you tell your friends how your parents ruined your life.  My parents drank so I complained about that for instance.  I won’t play “whale war” with Jack.  That’s a game where we throw stuffed animals at each other.  He makes up ever changing rules depending on who’s winning.  But once I got bopped in the face by the shoe of a stuffed bear so I won’t play anymore.  Maybe that will be his complaint.  Or maybe my yelling “STOP IT!” will be what he tells his friends when they’re discussing their bad childhoods.  He’ll say “I was never the same after that yell.”  But hopefully he’ll never say “You think that’s bad, at least your mom didn’t throw you out the window.”  Fingers crossed.

I’m gonna imagine Jack will just realize I’m just a person.  Not perfect, but not so bad either.  I apologized that night and said I shouldn’t have yelled but that I was frustrated.  He told me he gets frustrated with me and he doesn’t yell, which between you and me and the lamp post isn’t so true, but I just said, “I know” and again “I was wrong to yell,” at which point he said he was wrong to yell too and he was sorry.  He asked why we fight sometimes and I said because we’re strong willed which means we both want our way.  Then he said he IS strong and made me feel his muscle.  Then we lay in his bed and talked and read a book.   Looking at him sleeping I thought “Well maybe he won’t be poet laureate of the United States; maybe he’ll just be someone who can say “I’m sorry” and mean it.  Poetry’s over rated anyway.

Afterbirth Stories

Click Here to Buy the Book!


1 Feedback so far. to I Yelled

  1. missym on April 21st, 2010 4:07 pm

    This is hysterical! I yell all the time. Hopefully the kids are okay…

Leave a Feedback

You must be logged in to post a feedback.
No new account required.