Rory licks the last of his vegan chocolate ice cream off the spoon and holds the bowl out, "More?"
"No." I'm already furrowing my brow at him.
Eyes already in the back of his head, I take a deep breath to prepare myself for the inevitable next sentence out of his mouth, hopeful that it's "Okay Mom!" and knowing that it won't be.
"Maaaaaaaaahhhhmmm, I just want one more bowl of ice cream. I don't understand why not." Comes the irritating whine from my 4 year olds chocolate lipsticked mouth.
"Please don't whine at me, we just had a special treat of going out for pizza and ice cream. There are plenty of kids who don't get this experience at all, can we maybe have a bit of gratefulness instead of complaining?"
A disgusted scoff and his head hits the table in a pouting tantrum.
This is not my child. I did not raise this self-indulgent creature. There must have been a body swap, I think to myself, because this thing rolling it's head around the table at Yeti fucking Yogurt does not belong to me. Jinora shoves another spoonful into her mouth then smiles at me with bright red teeth. I tell Rory we don't get to have sweets for an undetermined amount of time.
This is just an example, one of the numerous times my fuse is shorter than it should be. And my fuse is short these days. With everything in our lives being out of balance, it is easy to see how we might be a little over the top with each other during this season. In fact, when I think about it logically and remove myself from the situation, it makes an abundance of sense. But when my four and a half year old huffs at me for the tenth time in one hour, my logic is at a minimum.
Mark has a consistent fluctuation between mild annoyance and patience with the children with the occasional outburst due to a bad day at work or other things. I tend to have more heightened swings of deep affection and loathing. It has been especially difficult for Rory and I during this season. He finally wants to assert his independence while I struggle to create normalcy in chaotic life - these two things cause friction. Jinora is fierce, but also consistent: she will always be mischievous if your back is turned, will always yell back at you if you shout at her, etc. - easy to gauge. But my son, my sweet deep feeling son, runs hot and cold.
I would love to say this is a blog about how you can manage your short fuse with your children. I wish I could give you 3 Easy Steps to dealing with tantrums when your own temper is raging. I would prefer to have the answers for you, but I don't. No one does. Everyone's life and situation is different, we are each experiencing our realities through our own filters of history, emotion, life stage, etc. There is no silver bullet. And the less we look for one, the more we will discover, that's okay.
I am just sharing my experience in solidarity. I get it. My kids have thrown a container of salsa out of the cart like a spicy grenade and then had to be forcibly removed from the grocery store while screaming with their full lung capacity. They have also been the kids sitting quietly, not asking for candy in the check out line, using please and thank you like commas, and helping carry the bags into the house.
And sometimes I help the situation by calmly relating instructions to them or giving them hugs before asking what is wrong. And other times I scream back or burst into tears, or hide under the covers with my headphones in. Yes, all of these are acceptable truths. Because no one is physically injured or damaged emotionally through these experiences. I am hoping my fuse will lengthen as we continue balancing. I'm working on it.
But I am also comfortable with the fact that I'm not perfect, so it might take awhile.