There will be blood / by Susie Lubell



Sometimes I just can't stop from turning into Mommy Hyde. Does this ever happen to you? You know you're going down the wrong parenting path, that what you're doing is sure to cause a major power struggle, that you will unintentionally cause a public scene, that your kids will likely get over it fifteen minutes later but that you will hold the whole horrible thing in your chest for the rest of the day, maybe the rest of the week or even your whole life. But it's like when you're tripping and you know you're tripping because it's almost happening in slow motion, such that there may even be a chance to save yourself from imminent danger and certain embarrassment, but you can't because of all the gravity. Damn you Sir Isaac Newton!

Well such was the case today on our way to school. I was planning to drop off my oldest, then my girl, then bring the baby to the sitter. So it goes with Mondays in general. For whatever reason my oldest, who is now seven and a half and getting very close to having a rational brain, gets hysterical about having to sit in his sister's booster near the door instead of his own backless booster in the middle. Meanwhile he always sits in her seat without issue when I intend to drop him off because it's easier and quicker for him to get out. And it's not even the chair she threw up in a month ago. It's a different one. It doesn't smell. There's nothing wrong with it. In fact, it used to be his chair. But he throws a fit and won't sit down and I tell him I'm not driving until he is seated properly and that we will be late. He continues to refuse and this is where I take a wrong turn.

I tell him I am cancelling his playdate. Why Susie? Why would you engage him like this, you amateur!

That just sends him limbic. I can almost see him turning into a crocodile. He finally sits down but instead of apologizing and pleading in a nice voice to have his friend over, he starts shrieking about it. So instead of just following through with my inappropriate consequence and taking him to school, I turn toward the clinic in town because we've been sitting on a referral for a blood test for him for a week (stomach pains, want to rule out Celiac) so I figure as long as we're late and the lab is only open from 8-8:30 in the morning and I have a little leverage with the play date, he should do the test. Now I'm limbic too and making all kinds of horrible decisions and he's terrified and starting to twitch and I'm starting to twitch but also grin a little because I am evil.

I spend the next ten minutes telling him that he can have his playdate but he has to do this blood test. The power struggle is on. Everything is on the table. The blood test, the playdate, a chance to sit in the front seat (we're one block from school), some kind of chocolate treat after the blood test, boarding school in Uzbekistan, everything. It's all game.

He pulls it together enough to walk in the clinic quietly though he is still snorting and drooling and we go upstairs to the lab. When it is finally our turn he can't stop sobbing enough for the nurse to get the needle in so we have to leave and I fear we will have to repeat the whole exercise tomorrow. On our way out he decides he can do it so we go back and I hold down his arm and try to distract him. My attempts are in vain. Fortunately the nurses attempts are also in vein and she gets the sample. My poor boy is shaking uncontrollably. This apparently did hurt, way more than any inoculation or flu shot. I had lied to him. I tried to explain how fear can cause us to perceive more pain than actually exists empirically. He is not listening. I'm an idiot.

He sits in the front seat and we drop off my daughter. She is glad to be rid of us. I take him into school and his teacher tells him he was a brave hero and generally blows smoke up his ass. Thank god for her. The other kids are happy to see him and he shows everyone his bandage. His friend asks if he can still come over and I almost throw my arms around him to say YES YOUNG MAN. YOU ARE THE PRIZE. NEVER FORGET THAT. I use the filter instead, nod enthusiastically to the friend, hug my son and leave the building.

After I drop off the baby I go to the supermarket and stock up on ice-cream, candy and cookies. That's how I plan to make it known to all in my family that I am an ass and that I apologize. All will be forgiven. Life goes on. I will review the Positive Discipline parenting aid I have on my iPhone and hope for a better outcome next time. The end.