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It’s the same scene that gets played out over and over and over and over again. It’s happening right now. Archibald (not his real name) is usually the instigator. Mortimer (not his real name, either) is the perfect co-dependent and follows and mimics Archie every chance he gets. Sometimes, Daddy has enough.
I’m human, probably all too human. Yesterday, the scene was played out again. The only difference was that it was homework time. Wait, let me start over this way.
I made a mistake. All in all, it was not a major mistake, at least to me. Morty did not have any homework. Archie did. So, I sat down with him to do it. If you remember (and if not, that’s ok, too), Archie has a learning disability in reading, so we always try to give him some extra help with his homework. We, SMM (Sergeant Major Mommy) and I, also have him read to us and we read to both of them at bedtime.
I am sitting at the dining room table ready, willing and able to help Archie. But, besides having a disability, Archie also has been diagnosed with ADD. I have been diagnosed with TCR, Traumatic Child Raising, but that’s another story. Anyway, Archie is stalling. First, he has to go to the bathroom and do a #2. Granted, that’s a legit excuse. You gotta go, you gotta go.
When he finishes, about 15 minutes later, he comes to the table (oh yes, he washed his hands et al. in case you were wondering), and he sits down. But, the chair isn’t right and the table isn’t right and Daddy can you do this and Daddy can you do that and, and, and… That goes on for another 10 minutes and Daddy has been complacently agreeing and adjusting etc., but Daddy realizes that Archie is stalling.
It was a very simple exercise to do. I don’t know why he was prevaricating. But, he was. And I did. Yell at him, that is. Now, I have seen parents yell at their kids. This wasn’t that bad. I was not the Marine Corp Drill Sergeant getting in his face and saying things like, “You’re Momma is not here to help you, boy!” But, I was louder than a normal tone of voice. Maybe too loud, which brings me to Part 2 of the saga.
I was loud enough that Grandma came downstairs to see what was happening. Yes, she lives upstairs. Yes. Yes. Yes. I’m sure you all know what that means. Now, I don’t want to say she’s old, but she knew Jesus. If you don’t believe me, you can ask her.
And she said. And I said. And she said. And I said. Well, what we said doesn’t really matter, but I did not say anything mean or inappropriate to her. She realized she wasn’t going to get anywhere with me so she retreated to her upstairs Gma-cave.
Well, little Archie was expectedly overwhelmed, but he did get to work on his homework and completed quickly, as I knew he would and could.
Morty came strolling by at this moment and I asked him what he was doing and where he was going since he was supposed to be reading. He replied that he was going to the bathroom to do #1. I said Ok.
To my credit, I did two things after the intensity of the moment passed. First, I apologized. I realize that does not undo the previous actions, but I hoped it would let Archie know that I knew what I did was not a good thing and that I was sorry for it. I have instructed the little buggers about the motive behind the apology and that they should accept an apology, or offer an apology, as long as they feel it was sincere. I tell them you should always give a person the benefit of the doubt.
Second, I always try to separate the behavior from the person. So, I told Archie how much I loved him and how smart I think he is (and even though he has a disability, the teachers and SMM and I agree on his intelligence and creativity) and how I knew he would have no trouble doing the exercise. But, it was his behavior and not him as a person that was incorrect and unacceptable.
That is one thing I never got from my dad. God Bless his soul, may he RIP. He did the best he could. He would yell at me, but he…. Ok, once he apologized when he realized he was in the wrong. But, mostly, he didn’t and I grew up with low self-esteem and self-image my whole life.
I had a talk with the little buggers at dinner which was after homework and reading were done. I asked them if they thought I was a good daddy. Morty said yes, unless I’m yelling. I said, Fair enough. So, I offered them a deal – I would yell less if they listened to SMM and I and did their homework. They said they would and I said I would and we shook hands.
But, wait, there’s a Part 3. I knew that when SMM came home, I would have to get to her first before Gma and tell my side of the story.
So, the cheetah boys (they’re twins btw) and I are sitting on the couch watching their performances that morning in their School Recorder concert. I had transferred the video to my PC and we were looking at it when SMM came home. She mentioned that she wanted to get Gma to have her watch the performance with us when I told her what had transpired and that Gma is probably not too happy with me right now.
Of course SMM gave me a lecture on my poor performance which is what I expected. It was her mother after all.
Later, the boys had received some candy from some whatever at school. I don’t remember where. But, they had candy. Archie offered me some of his and I almost cried. He really is a sweet kid when he’s not overacting.
The next morning, SMM told me that Gma had said something really annoying to her last night too. So, she understood where I was coming from and how and why I react to Gma’s OCD. That is why I came to love and obey my wife.
Now, if I can just get a hold of Jesus to talk to Gma for us.
It is with great sadness that I have to say that my brother, Robert, has left us. We have no definitive arrangements at this time.
I have been thinking of Robert in my life. When his wife passed away, just six short months ago, I was fortunate to see him again. We hugged and wept and said “I love you’s”.
We’ve only seen each other a few times in the past few years as our lives had taken different directions. Robert had a hard life and was experiencing pain and discomfort in recent months and years. He is in a better place now.
I found a couple of pictures of him. One was when he was in second grade. The other is with Mommy and me, which I believe was at Cumberland Falls when we took a rare vacation.
I will remember him as a small man with a big heart and smile.
I would like to ask anybody who reads this to do me a favor. Could you go hug somebody right now? I mean right now. Go hug somebody, your spouse, your kids, your neighbors and friends. Let them know how you feel about them. Tell them I Love You. In the face of someone’s passing, it becomes abundantly clear to me that we and I don’t do it enough. And, you’ll just have to trust me on this one, we don’t want to say, I should have done or said it more.
So it was my great privilege and responsibility (as dictated by Sergeant Major Mommy) to take Mortimer to his friend’s birthday party. Seeing 20 screaming kids in a small party room gave me pause and I will happily share my thoughts with anyone contemplating becoming parents:)
As for me, I should have brought my ear plugs. They were louder than a Who concert!