I adore my children with every cell of my being. Yep, even with those dratted cells whose sole mission is to cultivate cellulite. And if that isn’t a testament to love at its most unconditional, I don’t know what is.
I show this love in a physical way by sneaking up behind my daughters and wrapping my arms around them tightly enough to feel their hearts beat. It is a feeling that warms me even more than that of a professionally prepared hot latte on a brisk fall morning.
Emotionally speaking, when their young hearts feel joy, I feel it, too—well, unless we’re running late to school and their active displays of joy become my prospective aneurism.
When they experience sadness, I feel a sympathetic pit in my stomach that could cinch me a win with a peach in the annual pumpkin growing contest.
And yet – lest love look one dimensional – there are times that I would consider leaving the two of them out for curbside pick-up.
Alas, it is true that no one ever said that raising a child was easy. What they ought to add to that truism, however, is that raising pre-teens and teens can be downright impossible.
I liken the experience to suffering a storm in the days before there was a weather channel. Those primitive people had to be shocked beyond belief to be sitting on the beach enjoying a gentle breeze and the sound of the gently crashing waves, just to nod off and then wake-up to the reality that their umbrella had become a double-threat weapon that would serve to impale or electrocute them.
For us, the funnel clouds whip up right around our dinner table, which is supposed to be the beacon of sanity in our hurried and stress-filled world. We always start out civilized and seemingly grateful to sit down together, yet wind up devolving into a contest of bad manners and one-upmanship.
I swear I’d flee to the cellar with a ration of pork-n-beans and a flashlight if I thought the drama would blow over quickly, without any intervention on my part.
Since I can’t beat them (literally or figuratively, I’m afraid), I often embody the old refrain and join them in their histrionics. Before you can say duck and cover, we’re all screaming mature accusations of “You started it!” and “You always side with her!”
When all the fight is out of me, I bow my head in desperation and do my best Rodney King impression with “Can’t we all just get along?”
This pattern upsets me to no end. I politely point out that the girls alternate between the roles of provoker and over-reactor in every one of these blow-ups, but analysis doesn’t seem to get us far.
Since I can’t seem to solve the problems, I find my own way of coping with them. Coffee seems to help for the early morning rounds and chardonnay does a lovely job of taking the edge off the evening ones, but I have discovered that the real way through it is with a perverse sense of humor.
I do realize that the little games I play are likely to put me behind Britney on the long list of candidates for “Mother of the Year,” but it is a price I am willing to pay.
My sick pleasure, you see, is invading their language and making it my own in a way that takes what is cool and makes it as lukewarm as soup on simmer.
The discovery came to me when I was a high school teacher and my students started using the expression “Oh, snap.” I was intrigued by its meaning because I noticed they were using it in two different ways. One was as a replacement for an expression that would get them in trouble and the other was to say something to the effect of “gotcha.”
The horror and disgust I encountered by having asked the question let me know I was on to something big. This led to my trying out the expression and asking earnestly “Did I use it correctly?”
Before you could say “Copa Cabana,” my act had evolved into “Samba snap!” complete with the perky visual aide of my dancing hand. They rolled their eyes; I laughed maniacally and forgot my woes. It was perfect.
Without realizing it at the time, I was being trained for the up-and-coming teens I would soon have in my own house. For obvious reasons, they have never been interested in “oh, snap,” but they have started adding a new suffix, “uh,” to the end of words when they are annoyed. Do they not realize who they are playing with-uh?
To a trained and ornery ear like mine, this means the word “no” starts to sound an awful lot like “Noah.” And wouldn’t you know, that reminds me of the preschool song that goes “Who built the arc? Noah, Noah.”
How much do you want to bet that I can eradicate that suffix in a Samba snap?
Shana McLean Moore is a resident of Almaden Valley. She is a motivational speaker, author and community organizer. She can be contacted through her website: www.sunnysidecommunications.com
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