By Contributing Editor Jenny Isenman
I have something to tell you; please don’t spread it around, as it’s somewhat of a secret. I screamed “shut up” at my son today. “SHUT UP!” not “shush” or “sshhhhh” or even “ferme la bouche.” No, “Shut Up.” I didn’t say it in a whisper, or even hiss it through clenched teeth. I yelled it in a vein popping tone, and it felt sort of good, aside from the fear of having an aneurism. I hate to admit it, but in the moment I actually enjoyed the shock value.
In my house, “shut up” is still the “S” word. That and “stupid”…fine, it’s “shit” also (look, we’re not Amish). “Shut up” is a phrase that I – a person who has managed to use“Shniekees” and “Gaylord Focker” in place of harsher expletives for the last 7 years – have never uttered to my children.
Had I witnessed you on the street saying – no, screaming – that to your child, I would have judged you with disdain. I may have even considered calling child services on you. Now, I’m the one with the scarlet letter. I’m just a few more outbursts from a knock at the door.
I’m not going to tell you what my son did, but just know, he started it! Fine, I’ll tell you. He was yelling at me, telling me “No,” contradicting me, and being incredibly obnoxious all at once, and all at warp speed. He never took a breath. I didn’t know whether to punish or have him try out for the swim team.
The funny thing is, I just finished writing an article about the Spanking / IQ study, and here I am doing exactly what I said I wouldn’t do… “ensuring my child will need hours of therapy.” Way to go Jenny. Though I don’t believe in it, I would have been better off calmly putting him over my knee; at least I would have had more self-control.
The worst part of this whole confession inducing incident was the look on his face. It was somewhere between “Uh-oh, you said a bad word!” and a lip biting, “Sniff, sniff. You said that bad word to ME?” As I’ve said before, I subscribe to the book of damage control parenting. Doing as little damage as possible, and controlling the damage you’ve done. This was one of those times I had to control the damage. Somewhat in shock myself, I had to regroup and think of my options: Apologize, use candy or some other bribe to gloss over it, or explain my actions. I went the obvious route, and when he finished licking the Kit Kat residue off his fingers, I said I was sorry.
I’ll tell you, when my kids were little, I would have sworn this day would never come. How could you look at those sweet chubby cheeks and imagine they could ever frustrate you so much? Conversely, when I told a few of my friends the story, they were shocked at how long I’d held out.
Wait a minute, I think there’s some praise in there. I amazed people with my nearly infinite patience. I deserve a medal, not a scornful eye. I take it all back… I am the best mom; it took me almost 8 years to tell my child to “shut up.” Wahoo! See, if you practice patience (but not too much), and bottle up frustration like seltzer (that your kids can agitate until it pops), you too can astound people. Then you can start a blog, and when you do terrible horrible things, you can seek contrition by telling hundreds, dare I say thousands, of people about them.
I am a neurotic mother of two amazing, wonderful, brilliant, perfect children which is saying a lot because I am a harsh critic and an uncompromising disciplinarian. You know, the kids have to sing for their supper kinda stuff… well, they at least have to ask… well, a grunt would be nice. Actually, they just sit and I make multiple meals until one is worthy of their sophisticated taste buds and doesn’t exacerbate their fear of burnt spots, crust, pizza bubbles, or food that touches other food. It is my job to keep them protected from the Florida sun, prehistoric insects, and plasticware with the number 3, 6, or 7 on the bottom. I have to expose them to just enough germs to build their immune system, while using little enough sanitizer to keep them healthy. I also have to remember to feed and water them daily.
A freelance writer for magazines such as InStyle and Mademoiselle, I also have a fabulously funny and relatable blog called suburbanjungle.net