Another Mothering Fail

Monday, August 10, 2009

Really it wasn't shocking. This latest incident. Since the incident with the Bitty Baby shoe, I have regularly confessed my less than stellar mom ability. My plan is that if I confess it first, she'll get alot less money for the tell-all book I expect her to someday shop around. At the very least, the therapist can read it as a first hand account from the pages of my blog.

I can go a long time keeping my cool. The medication helps of course, but in general I don't get riled up too often. This made me an excellent teacher of young children. Those nervous teachers never last long with the young ones as it quickly becomes a game of "drive the teacher bat shit nutty".

(Can I get an Amen from the teachers out there?)

Between my calm demeanor and my super awesome "teacher look " ( which also works on Undergraduate students and random co-workers) I can manage most situations with aplomb.
You might even find yourself compelled to apologize to me for unknown reasons after I affix the "look" upon you. Unless you happen to be my child.

If you are my child ( and occasionally my spouse), your ability to ignore the flashing warning sirens and shaking of the rattle on my tail is legendary. If you are my child, your ability to think I am kidding when I say "You need to calm down and listen to my words, you aren't listening to me and I am getting angry" is something to behold.

So what put her so far over the edge that I drove the car around the block a couple of times and then threw her water bottle at her when I finally DID come back?

A Spider.

And not even a big one.

We were leaving for camp/work. Things were going smoothly. Lunch, backpack, dry bathing suit and towel were packed and ready. We got into the car and I began to back out. As in actively driving and looking behind me as I attempted the taunting of death that is pulling out of my driveway. Looking behind me scanning for delivery trucks who will TRY TO KILL ME when she lets out a blood curdling scream, opens the door and throws herself from the slightly moving vehicle.

Ok. So it is true that she scared the shit out of me by leaping out of the car. This is a child who, at age 11, will still sit in the back seat and complain that she can't unbuckle herself. Therefore her speedy and deft ability to free herself from the seatbelt AND get the door open was a surprise.

Now you have two screaming females in the driveway. One in the car - with car halfway out of driveway, the other in the driveway - running away.

I can't recall the exact words I was screaming, but I believe they were several expletives, her name and "Prithee gentle child of mine, what troubles you?" or some other less gentile version of that phrase.

From a good 15 feet away, and with face COVERED in snot/tears, she screams: "SPIIIIIIIDDDDEEEERRRRRR"

Ok. Now I know the enemy. And I spot it. On the door. And it is not a death-leap from car worthy spider. I've seen those kind, and this ain't it.

"Emily. Stop Crying, Get back over here - open the door and knock that spider OUT"

More intense sobbing. Mucous emerging from passages. Some kind of jumbled, hiccuping ball of words is shouted at me. I fix my stare at her.

"Emily Damali" ( Dear lord, the middle NAME is coming out - this is mother speak for you, missy, are in some serious trouble and better get yourself together STAT)

"You find a stick and walk over here, open the door and knock that spider out of the car."

More incoherent mucous mumbling. Did I mention yet that this is all Pre-first cup of coffee? Because it is.

"I swear to you Emily Damali, if you don't knock it off this second, I am driving off without you."

Mind you, the door to the car is still wide open.

From Emily, there is pointing and sobbing and screaming. I back out like the Dukes of Hazard and make my passenger door slam shut. I drive away. Not really, of course. I drive around the block hoping that she will come to her senses and start to breathe again.

I circle the block and pull back into the driveway. She is sitting on the front step. Glaring.
Oh yes, my little jedi. Your teacher look, while good, does not match mine. You scare me not.

"Emily. Get a stick. Get back over here and knock that spider out of the car. It is a teeny tiny fraction of the size of you. Yes. I understand you do not like spiders. However, you need to problem solve this. Now get over here and TAKE CARE OF IT."

There is an edge to my voice. You parents know that edge. Shit, I know the edge from my own mother. It is the "Dear Lord Baby Jesus, do not make me come over there and beat your ass" edge. It is the "I am trying everything in my human power to not completely lose my shit and run through the yard trying to catch you while you scream about spiders" edge.

She stands and first tries to tell me there are no sticks in the yard. I simply stare at her. I mean, come on. If you are going to try to bullshit me, give it a real effort. She find the previously invisible stick and marches back over. Opens the door and throws the stick in the direction of the spider. Which misses the spider completely. Most likely it provided the spider with a cooling breeze as it soared by.

I stare at her. We are now in a battle of wills, my daughter and I. I immediately feel the balance of her teen years hanging before us. Will I be one of those mothers - fixing every problem, smoothing every wrinkle?

Oh No, Mo-fo. You are going to do this if it is the last thing you do. I pick up the water bottle she has tucked in the cup holder. And I am sorry to say, I throw it at her legs. And it makes contact. Thunk. She now has forgotten the danger of the spider. The danger of her mother is in the forefront of her attention.

"HEEEEYYYYY! THAT HURTS!!!" she screams.

I am in full mother rage. Teeth clenched. Nose breathing. Lips pursed. Palms and armpits sweating.

She stares at me. She looks in the back of the car. She looks back at me.

"Can I use your sneaker to get the spider out?"

"Of course. Please. Be my guest."

And in less than 5 seconds, the spider is knocked from the car door and made a "former spider" by a Converse sneaker wielding girl.

She gets in the car. Our silence is deep. Our wrinkle in time not yet corrected.

I drive.

I offer the olive branch with this question:

"What could I have done differently in that situation?" and allow her to criticize my mothering safely - for both of us.

By the time we get to camp, we kiss and I wish her a lovely day.
She lingers. "I love you, Mom."

"I love you too, my brave girl."

9 Baleful Regards:

Karen Bodkin said...

I don't count this as a fail. She took care of her own problem, did she not?

Fraulein N said...

Yeah, you handled this pretty well. I love that you were able to calm down enough to talk about it with her after the fact.

I can't even imagine how that would've played out in my house when I was that age.

La said...

If that's the worst thing you have ever done to her, surely my autobiography about life with my mother will outsell hers by millions, lol

louralann said...

That is awesome! I think you did just fine...and I got a great chuckle out of it in the meantime.

Anonymous said...

Will be filing this one in the mental rolodex.

Not a fail by any measure, BTW.

Anonymous said...


Bobita said...

Our daughters? Were delivered by the same stork.

Did your mother ever utter the words, "you just wait, young lady. One day, you will have a daughter JUST LIKE YOU. And then you will know what it is like..."

I blame my daughter's defiant glare and fearlessness-in-the-face-of-my-dangerous-stink-eye on those words.

Amanda said...

The only additional thing you could have said is, "Step outside the circle." lol. just kidding. Fulling expecting a similar experience later in life with my oldest daughter.

Marie Cloutier said...

Oh man, I had one of these spider incidents tonight on the way home from dinner with an 8 year old. Nice to know I'm not alone! :-)

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