…is still quite a real thing. This would also be a fine time to post a picture of Twisted Sister, for reasons that shall soon become clear.
My oldest son (and, to an extent, his brother) likes Twister Sister, Survivor, and Quiet Riot. I don’t play a lot of ’80s music but enough that it caught his attention. Music is something the three of us bond over, especially as we drive back home from school and daycare. For every “Humpty Dumpty,” I try to play something that isn’t just silly or nursery-rhymey. I believe in music-by-osmosis. My sons may never crank up the Doors like their old man does, but they’ll know who Jim Morrison was, and the Kinks and Pretenders, and Aerosmith and Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, as well as Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, Jack White and Bob Dylan.
My oldest son and I are also a great deal alike, and we butt heads often. He’s eight and I’m 41, and you wouldn’t think that a 41-year-old would stoop to sniping back and forth with his kid along of the lines of “I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I?” In my case, you would be wrong.
I’ve gotten better at pulling myself back from making cutting comments or being sarcastic, which is kind of my default mode when I’m attacked by anyone, including my children. I don’t unload the full, double-barrel verbal cannons, of course, but I can be cruel and thoughtless, especially when my son’s being openly defiant or does something I know is designed not only to push my buttons, but to jump up and down and stomp the ever-loving crap out of them.
That happened today over something rather silly. My son dumped blue food coloring into the peanut butter last night, and then he refused to eat his blue-tinged peanut-butter waffles this morning. He also said, “I’m not eating my sandwich, either.” I told him he’d be awfully hungry, but he could make such a decision. He also threw away the peanut butter because, honestly, I don’t know how safe it is to eat food color-infused peanut butter. I could be being dramatic, but I expressed concern (and irritation), so my son threw the peanut butter away. I told him he owed me and his mother three dollars for the peanut butter, which he accepted…until I actually took three dollars from his money-box. Then he collapsed into a heap and began emitting a noise like a dying cow or cat. I read recently that for many parents, the sound of a newborn crying can cause their brain scans to look as if they’re dealing with severe OCD. I’m not sure about that (though I have the tendencies), but the sound of my son keening and moaning somewhere in the upper register of A# practically shuts my brain down except for the desire to make it stop. That desire manifests itself into me snapping at him to stop his nonsense and so forth, which of course, accomplishes nothing.
The episode was over fairly quickly, but the negative feelings and thoughts stayed with me until I got to work and emailed my wife about it and began writing this blog. A day has passed since I started this entry, and things are mostly back to normal. I’m sure my son and I will continue to clash, and I’ll continue trying to let go of my need to control him while still holding him to reasonable expectations.
It’s a lot of work, but it’s work for every parent, in recovery or not. I see the strain on my wife’s face when dealing with our childrens’ temper tantrums, and I certainly put my sober mother through her paces. She emerged relatively unscathed.
And I’ll do the same. One day. my son and I will sit down and talk about his childhood, and we’ll focus on the good things. It’s something I never experienced with my father, so I’m looking forward to it.
Right now, I’m looking forward to another cup of coffee and another sober day. Have a good weekend, everyone.