Lately things have become a little more complicated around here. Some of it is definitely my fault. But, monthly cycles, feelings of not being in the “popular group”, HS dances, friends, friends and friends (with friends like these who needs enemies, lol), are all colluding to make a nice “lentil soup” of things I am dealing with on the fly.
Where to start? Oh, yes. There was the car ride home from school. This is usually a nice refuse from the rest of the day. The heavy lifting has been done – with students, in a gym (in which the echo would make the grand canyon proud) anyway. The convesation on the way home with my now 15 year old is usually pleasant-if brief. Something like “How are you honey or sweetie – Ugh! or OK, or it sucked,” are expected if not charming responses :). This usually leads the way to more practical talk about what supplies are needed for upcoming events, projects, etc. However, today there was a “bite” in the air. The kid had received a less than satisfactory score on a “Mandarin” quiz. Bearing her teeth, a little un characteristically, with emotion expressed extreme displeasure with the teacher. “I wrote all the right characters….she took off because they were not in the order that she asked for them… I don’t see why it matters!“…. And, I believe her – she probably doesn’t see why the teacher doesn’t want her to just memorize a brief list of terribly difficult to reproduce, Chinese characters – and dump them on the page as soon as the test begins!; rather than thoughtfully respond to each prompt with the accurate depiction. Oh, well…then started the vitriol! “I hate language. Why do I have to take two years of stupid language? Are you sure? Colleges want this? How do they know if you didn’t?….well I’m not doing it!” And, I’ve got a Mandarin exam tomorrow which I’m going to fail because I lent my Mandarin book to Michaela and she didn’t give it back.”
Well much to my surprise – my burst disk, went! (old scuba term, dont worry about it) – while driving down the road at 65mph not 5 minutes following a typically intense school day, and believing that I was going to the library for Amanda, going to see two tutoring students (on opposite ends of town, of course), cook dinner, fill out a couple of job applications, and discover the next cure for -adult women incessantly chewing gum syndrome -(That’s another entry) and now go to a friends house to get the school – book that they should have exchanged before leaving school….”I’m just sayin‘”. I recognized the guy whose voice came out of me but I’ve definitely kept him under wraps over the last 3 or 4 years. And, I’ve been proud of that fact. However, I guess my stress level was quite a bit higher than I imagined, and I yelled and I yelled loud, actually… I tried to yell loud, and due to the lingering cold I’ve had for 3 weeks, the words came out quite muffled. But, the look on my face must have been priceless as I strained to emphasize …”What is it you want me to do!” I’m taking you to the library, I’ve got two students today…. you’re telling me that you’re lending your book out on an evening that you know you have a test the next day…. Tell me what you want me to do!!!!”
OK, ok,…. I over reacted… but that’s when the F bomb dropped…. Calmly from the back seat she said “What the F…., Dad“…. So now, I continue my rant , ” …don’t ever use that word with me! I’m not your Mother!,” (while flailing with my right hand at her legs in the back seat, making contact weakly only once or twice, connecting with the strongest part of her 15 year old body, her legs).
When the dust settled, I had lost. Silent tears were shed in the back seat – – “Just take me home,” was uttered by the teen. I fell silent not hardly believing my outburst. My world started to crumble as I realized that all the capital I had built up, by not being a yeller, shouter or unreasonable Father, over the last several years – just went up in smoke – with about the most unreasonable display of anger I could have served up.
And only after student number two and on my way home in the dark, I remembered. It’s Pizza Night!!! – and I knew where my opening was – and I ran through it like Gayle Sayers bursting through a hole to daylight!…. My forgiveness dance started with that food offering, and ended with my contrition, and admission that I lost my temper, yes, but, that I felt worse about breaking our bond of trust; one that said – she could always feel safe with me, and not be afraid of my acting inconsistently or irrationally. I told her this sincerely and honestly, and what’s more, I think she believed me.