I was tired. I was stressed. My nerves had been worn thin by being pulled in twenty different directions, or as Granny would say, seven ways from Sunday.
So my reaction was, to say the least, a bit outlandish.
Cole had spilled Gentian Violet on his khaki shorts.
His new khaki shorts. The third pair I have bought him in about as many months, because he has outgrown 7 pairs of shorts, four pairs of pants, and probably a dozen pairs of jeans.
I had told him the day before, to not wear them at home, because between three dogs and his father, there is just too much mess to get into.
I told him to put on another pair, not new ones he hadn’t even worn out yet.
My child looked at me and shrugged.
“They’re fine, Mama,” he said.
But the next day, he woke and pulled them back on, as he normally does when he has already stashed something good in his pockets.
I gave him a sideways glance and shook my head. I had told him the day before, he didn’t need to wear new stuff around the house when he was going to be rolling on the floor with the dogs.
And minutes later, Cole told me he has a bug bite.
“Where’s the bug bite stuff?” he asked.
“In the bathroom,” I answered.
Now, when I think bug bite stuff, I think Benadryl cream, witch hazel, hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin, and tea tree oil. I don’t think Gentian Violet. I can’t remember why I had bought this stuff a while back but I must have referred to an alternative health book and decided it was going to cure whatever I had. Or maybe it promised to dissolve cellulite. I have no idea.
But Cole walked up to me, hands covered in the purple liquid.
In the process of trying to clean his mess up, he had left a trail of purple from the kitchen sink to the bathroom. Apparently, he got a drink of water, too, as there was a ring of purple under a glass sitting on the counter.
My initial reaction, whenever I see something on my child I don’t understand, is to freak out and my freak outs are the screechy, Velociraptor kind. Then I realized, one whole side of his shorts were ruined.
I lost it.
I had a big Mama meltdown fit.
And it had nothing to do with the shorts.
Yes, he has outgrown his clothes so quickly, I’ve replaced his whole wardrobe three times since March.
I was mad about the fact he did not listen to me when I told him to not wear them.
I had told him, point blank, to change the day before, and he hadn’t. He hadn’t listened to me.
That’s what caused my fit.
My big, horrible, awful fit.
All my child did during my meltdown was look up at me and say, “Yes ma’am” while I had the fit.
“Do you understand why I am so mad right now?” I asked. The rubbing alcohol had not worked on the shorts and apparently, scrubbing the fibers makes it worse. Who knew? I still don’t know what the heck Gentian Violet is or used for.
“It’s not because you ruined your shorts,” I said. “It’s because you didn’t listen. I told you, I told you, so plainly yesterday, to not wear your brand new stuff at home because of something like this. If you had only listened to me, this wouldn’t have happened.”
He dropped his head. “I know. I am sorry, Mama.”
I felt a pang hit my heart. Was a pair of shorts worth destroying his spirit?
I sat the shorts in the sink to soak in the alcohol and decided I needed to cool off.
Why had I gotten so upset?
The only logical explanation I could come up with was because my child had not done what I told him to the day before.
It wasn’t the shorts. It was the fact I was aware of the possibility for him to mess them up, told him to take them off and he had looked at me and shrugged.
Because we all know, if it falls out of our mama’s mouths, it is just a bunch of bunk.
I was guilty of that myself. Anytime my own Mama told me to do something, I rolled my eyes, gave her a passive aggressive “whatever,” and then ignored her heeding. Shortly thereafter, I was running to Mama, begging for forgiveness and asking for help, for her to fix it.
Just like Cole ran to me when he realized the purple dye was not coming off.
And Mama, never once, yelled or lost her temper when I did.
She may have told me later how right she had been and how if I had only listened to her, I would have spared myself the pain, the mishap, the embarrassment.
But she never made me feel bad about it during the cleanup of my mess.
I looked at my monkey, quietly sitting on the couch. My heart ached for the words I had said, which couldn’t be unsaid and had been far too harsh for a 10-year-old. Probably too harsh for anyone, but especially a child.
“I need to talk to you about what happened earlier,” I began.
He looked up at me, expecting even more admonishment.
“I am so sorry for what I said. There was absolutely no reason for me to be that upset at you – it was totally unacceptable –”
“It’s okay, Mama,” he said, cutting me off. “I forgave you even while you were saying it.”
I hugged him tight.
I fail every day. That day, was more epic than others. But somehow, someway, I am evidently doing something right.