On the way to use my gift certificate from Christmas on a hair cut yesterday, my eight year old son asked me, "Mom, when I'm a teenager, will you be a granny?"
I busted out laughing. Together, we figured out that I would roughly be the age of my sister.
"Do you think Aunt Tammy is a granny?"
"So do you think I will?"
"I guess not."
At the salon, as she was playing with my hair, discussing possibilities, he came over, peered closely at the back of my head, and said, "Man! There is a bunch of grey in there. I think she needs new color, too." Both the stylist and myself had a good laugh.
Then, of course, because it was the end of his long day, my grumpy boy decided to be a thorn in my side for the entire appointment. The entire time, the stylist was great. She distracted him a ton and was able to make the appointment doable. I don't think Evan realized how helpful she was for him, because I almost lost my cool at least twice with him.
We got into the car to pick up his sister and he continued to whine, complain, and put me down. Unfortunately for him, he didn't have anyone there to intervene. I proceeded to pull the hurt mom card. "Evan! You are being so mean! First you point out all the things wrong with my hair, then you wouldn't run to the car to grab something for me, and you couldn't stop insulting me. How do you think that makes me feel?” I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the moment when it all sunk in. His face changed from being angry at the world to realizing he had hurt the feelings of his biggest supporter. He was so upset with himself that he put his hand over his face in embarrassment. I felt bad that he was feeling bad, but want desperately for him to realize that the world isn't all about him, so I said, sternly of course (didn't want him to think I was getting soft, even though I was), "Evan, I love you so much. But I don't like it when you are so mean to me. Do you like it when people are mean to you? You're going to bed early tonight and I don't want any more trouble." His hand didn't come down from his face, but I know he heard me. I turned up the radio and continued driving.
When I got to the school to pick up Alexa from practice, he was fast asleep. My heart swelled and I was brought back to a time, some 35+ years ago, where I was the person with the hand over my face, embarrassed at the way I treated my mom. Only this time, it was my sister who pointed out how terrible I was being. I had yet another word match with my mom, and she got so frustrated that she stormed out of the room. My sister, who is truely the nicest person around, had had enough. She got right into my face, literally, like within inches, and in the angriest voice I have ever heard from her lips, told me to stop being such a brat. She was sick and tired of me being so mean to mom and watching her storm off crying. I was so caught off guard by this, that for once, I didn't have anything to say. Nothing. In typical teenager behavior, I didn't know that Mom was upset, I thought she was storming off because I won the argument. When Mom returned several minutes later, I noticed her red puffy face and eyes. I felt so bad and was embarrassed that I had caused that. That realization rocked my world. From that day on, I was more attuned to how she felt. I still caused issues, I was a teenager, afterall. I just don't remember being as harsh and mean. It was the first time I realized that the world didn't revolve around just me.
Looking at my sleeping boy reminded me that every kid thinks this. Thhis kid, in particular, was just as bullheaded and stubborn as I was, so I knew that wouldn't be the end of our battles, just like it wasn't over with my own Mom.
Fast forward an hour, we had gotten home and I was preparing dinner. Evan had disappeared from his spot at the table, where he was supposed to be doing his homework. I found him in his bed, reading his favorite book. (See-like mother, like son!) . Needless to say, the battle about the homework getting done didn't end well for Evan. I was frustrated, told him to get to sleep, he refused to follow directions until he ate, I denied him dinner and stormed away. (This sounds familiar!) . Then I started thinking about all of those fights with my Mom. Something was up with Evan, but he didn't want to tell me. Instead, he was going to stew about it, thinking and rethinking, until he blew. This was a tactlc I had mastered when I was younger. I sat at the table with Alexa and ate a quiet dinner with Evan on the stairs asking to talk to me. I managed to ignore him until he came down, totally serious, and said, "I am sorry, Mom." Then he turned around and went back upstairs. I met him on the steps, saying, "I accept your apology, but that doesn't get you out of trouble. Come and eat, then you are to go straight to bed."
It wasn't long after dinner that he was on the steps again, trying to negotiate for an overnight in my bed, because Eric was out of town for a wedding. I yelled at him, he tried talking again, I cut him off again (this sounds just like Mom and I), he started sobbing and I stopped, took a deep breath and really listened. In between sobs, he said that someone at school was talking about a murderer and he was scared. Ah ha! Here is where the problem was the entire time. Evan was stewing about this all day and didn't want to admit that he was talking to some friends about something he probably shouldn't have been. When something is really different, like his dad being away from home, Evan stresses about it. Add in the story he heard, and boom! Monster-Boy. I reached out my hand, he took it and I led him into my bed, where he slept peacefully all night and woke up a happy boy.
I hope that I can solve every problem with a safe spot in my bed, but I know better. My mom knew, too.
By the way, at the dinner table when it was just us two, I asked Alexa if my hair was full of grey in the back where Evan was looking. She said, "No. He's nuts, Mom. You have some grey, but it looks good." Yeah, I know, she inherited some of her Aunt Tammy's kindness. Don't worry, though, she's got a healthy doze of me in her, too. I'm sure you'll read about it soon.
Author's Note: We took took the picture while Evan was on the stairs trying to get my attention.