I think there's something going around. Some sort of illness that saps you of your patience, leaving your nerves raw and exposed and susceptible to your children trampling on them and destroying any sense of self-control you used to have, turning you into a threat-screaming, arm-yanking, head-in-hands-crying monster.
I think I caught it at the pool. I took Rollie there the other day to hang out with some friends and enjoy the hundred-degree August-in-Florida weather the only way possible--drenched in chlorinated water.
Everything was going fine. Elsa was chillin in her little floating lily-pad, grinning and splashing and kicking her chubby legs. Rollie was making me hold him so he could paddle and kick without sinking to the bottom. Everyone was having a grand old time.
Until it was time to leave.
I gave Rollie a warning. Five minutes, I said. Elsa was starting to get ornery, wilting like a fat little buttercup, and I was getting hungry. Rollie wasn't ready, but what kid is when there's a giant pool with water fountains and a huge slide and all kinds of toys floating around like nuggets of deliciousness in a bowl of fun-soup? Every request I made for him to come get his towel was ignored, so I started pulling out the warnings, the countdowns, the outright threats for him to get over here now, or else.... Still Rollie wouldn't come.
Finally I went over to physically remove him from the shallow end of the pool. His legs flailed, his fists pounded, he threw his head back in a primal scream of rage. It was a full-on tantrum, something he doesn't do very often (honest!). I asked him if he was really hitting me, and he even stopped for a moment, as if surprised by his own gall. But then he went right on hitting me. Sigh.
I was able to manhandle him into the car, and drive home without further protest. What I didn't know was that I must have either inhaled or ingested some microorganism that wormed its way into the recesses of my brain and started to grow.
Once we were home, Rollie wasn't interested in taking a nap, eating lunch or keeping his clothes on. Every attempt of mine to feed, cloth or make him rest was thwarted as he dodged out of my reach, yelling 'nooooooo!' and tearing around the house naked. And while normally the sight of my son streaking through the living room and crashing into the couch makes me laugh, this time I lost it.
"ROLLIE!" I hollered. "YOU STOP THAT! RIGHT! NOW!"
I was loud. I mean, seriously my throat was sore for a few hours afterwards. If our neighbors had been home they may have come knocking to make sure everything was okay.
Rollie even stopped and stared at me.
"Don't be mad, Momma," he said in a very small voice.
That's when I started to cry. Which is something else I hardly ever do. I just stood there and buried my face in my hands. My shoulders heaved, my nose ran. I was losing it. I had flashbacks of my mother, sitting at the dinner table as the squabbling and name-calling bounced around her, pinballing from one sibling to the next. She would bury her face in her hands, or sometimes just burst out with a diatribe that usually included threats to leave, move out, and never look back. No freaking wonder.
I got it together enough to apologize to Rollie for screaming. Then I strapped he and Elsa into their carseats and left the house. I didn't know where I was going. Rollie wasn't even wearing pants. But a change of scenery was in order, as was something from Starbucks. Sometimes a nice mocha frappaccino makes everything a little better.
The next day, though, Rollie pooped on the floor. Yeah, I screamed at him again. Not because of that, but because as I was trying to clean it up, he rolled on top of Elsa, bowling her over like a big, chubby pin. She started crying, he started yelling at her to stop crying, and then our dog started barking to go outside.
"ROLLIE!" I shrieked. "GET IN YOUR ROOM!"
Poor Rollie. He jumped up, wide-eyed. Really though, his room was the safest place for him--if he hung around near me any longer, I was liable to smack his freshly wiped little butt. It's funny how I spend so much effort trying to get him to control himself and his impulses, when really if I'm pushed far enough, all I want to do is scream and hit and throw things, too. I guess we all have a melting point.
I apologized to him again for losing my cool, but I started to worry that I had started a bad trend. I didn't want to spend my days yelling at Rollie and counting down the hours until he was in bed so I could consume an entire box of wine and pass out on the couch by 9. And if I have to scream at my son when he's only two, how am I supposed to get his attention when he's ten? Maybe I should start saving up for a bullhorn. Ay-yay-yay....
But I really do think it was a passing phase. Now that a few days have gone by, I think the little worm is gone. Maybe he found another host, or maybe he just curled up and died. Because right now, even though he's supposed to be taking a nap, Rollie has just sprinted past in a diaper and a pair of green rain boots, and all I want to do is laugh.