Tonight I blew up at the kids in the car.
This was once a regular occurrence, so regular that it’s safe to say they pretty much ignored it unless there was a threat involved, but I’ve grown. Mellowed. Come up with largely effective new methods of discipline and whatnot, and not only picked my battles, but mostly just chose not to battle. I lay out the way it’s going to be, and then it is.
But tonight there was such a flurry of “punchbuggy!” and “I’m not playing” and then Wyatt and Rory beating on each other in the back seat that I slammed on the brakes, yanked the car off to the side of the road and let them have it.
I really was angry, too. Not as angry as I used to get. But angry. After I’d shouted and declared an end to punchbuggy once and for all, I traced it back to some horrible behavior of Wyatt’s at our last stop and let him have it on that one, complete with a very clear explanation of what will happen to him if he ever, ever behaves like that again (that would be a dramatic temper tantrum because tennis was over and it was time to leave).
And then Rory saw a PT-Cruiser-Punch-a-Loser and I reminded them, again, that that was OVER, that it was all because Wyatt hit too hard and she and Lily were complete whiny babies about the whole thing and only wanted to play if THEY were the ones who saw the punch-giving vehicle. I did this rather meanly, I’m not going to lie to you. But it was evenly distributed meanness. And I was kind of playing it up, you now how you do, to make sure the message gets across.
Everyone suddenly became very anxious to be nice and helpful.
We got to our destination and I got out of the car first, slammed my door, and walked some distance away on the sidewalk. Rory was the first one out. I knew she’d be taking this hard; she doesn’t like it if I’m mad at her and it’s because she was in the wrong. Mad because she has been defiant is fine, mad because she’s begun a mutual destruction battle over something is fine, but mad because she’s actually done something she shouldn’t and she knows it (that would be repeatedly hitting Wyatt)—she really can’t stand that. So she hops out of the car. I can tell she’s trying to please.
And she runs over to me and hugs me, hard.
And I hug her back, and any real anger I had is just—gone. And later I whispered something to her—who do you think made me feel better? And she pointed to herself and I said “yes!” Because, you know, she really did. And Rory and I have had a long, hard road (mostly for me) of getting to the point where she could hug an angry me instead of fighting back regardless and of my really needing that hug.
I probably do need to say how much I love her. I love her like crazy.
But I still hate the game Punchbuggy.