Terms of Endearment

I was a real sweetheart this morning.

It is “Opposite Day” at Fred’s school today, so Fred dressed backwards. Meaning: shirt on backwards, pants on backwards, jacket on backwards, non-matching sneakers. It says something about my evolution as a perfectionist that I let my child out the door looking like this. “Hey, just make sure you ask Mrs. L. to unzip your jacket for you when you get inside, ‘K?”

No, not only did I check the tag on Fred’s pants to make sure it was on the wrong side, I even stop him from getting into the car so I can get a picture of him. Max has started the engine for me and loaded the car. I dash back into the house to find the camera and when I come back out I can hear Max’s grumblings in the background as I tell Fred to hold still. Snap. Snap. Nothing goes off. Max’s grumblings continue. “I’m recharging the battery!” and with that he stomps inside with the camera.  

I know what this is all about. Racing against the clock stresses him out but according to my watch, we can make it to school with 4.5 minutes to spare before the late bell rings. And a photo op for this once-in-a-school-year-chance should only take 30 seconds. But his background noise had already started to rattle my nerves. Whatever. I don’t need the picture that badly.

“Forget it!” I notice Max is trying to stuff the battery into the camera. I get Fred into his car seat and strap the belt over him.

“This is NO time to be taking pictures!” He shouts from the family room on the other side of the garage.

Oh —-  Oh —- Oh, “SHUT UP!” I shout loudly enough for him and a third of our neighbors to hear.

“SHUT UP?”

Uh, yeah. Shut up. I know, I shouldn’t have said it. I was annoyed and I wanted to have the last word. These aren’t the most appropriate last words but they are the last ones, and they are mine.

A small angry voice pipes up reminding me that someone important has heard me.

“It’s not nice to say ‘Shut up,’ Mommy!”

I let out a breath of relief. He is old enough to judge. I don’t have to backtrack that Daddy is not the bad guy.

“Sigh…I know. I’m sorry, Fred. That was very rude of Mommy. I’m going to apologize to Daddy when I get back.”

“Yeah. Because it’s not fair if only I have to apologize for things and you don’t.”

“I know. I don’t know why Mommy said that. I think I was just frustrated and I said something mean. I’m for sure going to apologize to Daddy when I get back.”

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