You wanna know what really grinds my gears?
Having to admit that I was wrong.
Come on, let’s face it. I have a temper, I’m impulsive, and I’m a mom. That’s a combination that just begs for a lot of mistakes and a lot of apologizing. I leap into Mama Bear mode at the drop of a hat and then end up crawling back mumbling those most hated of words: I was wrong.
But yesterday’s mistake was a biggie. Huge. Yesterday’s mistake may go down in history as one of the biggest goofs ever made by a mom leaping into Mama Bear mode far too soon and much too enthusiastically. And that’s saying a lot, considering the fact that I once told another mom I had a set of anal beads at home that hadn’t been as far up my ass as she was at that precise moment.
Let me give a little bit of setup here. My oldest child, The Princess, is a self-assured, compassionate, socially skilled young woman. My middle child, The Dark Prince, is the kind of kid who hides his warm heart and generous soul beneath an I-Don’t-Care/King Of Apathy exterior that fools very few people. But my youngest child, my Little Man, is my Sweet Baby. He is a timid little soul who feels everything. He is led by his emotions, which means that his feelings are hurt very easily. And when he looks up with those big blue eyes and serious little face, he could bring out protective, maternal instincts in Attila the Hun.
In short, I have no resistance to this child.
Monday night, my Little Man had a meltdown in my arms when he confessed to me that he had accidentally thrown away his gloves. He was devastated; he picked them out at the store with his Daddy, and they were his favorites. According to his story, he had thrown away his trash after eating breakfast at school and only realized later that his gloves had gone into the garbage can with the trash. Sad, but perfectly believable, right? These little guys go directly to the cafeteria when they arrive in the morning, and anyone could make a mistake while trying to juggle coats, hats, gloves, backpacks, etc.
I’ll admit, my Mommy Radar started tingling. The story seemed pretty detailed, and I am a strong believer in the KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid) that says the more detailed a story is, the higher the probability it’s a lie. Had it been The Princess telling me this story, she would have been covering up a genuine accidental loss of gloves. The Dark Prince would have been lying to cover up the fact that he gave his gloves away to someone who needed them. But Little Man . . . well, he doesn’t usually cover anything up. He just falls apart and blurts the truth, so I didn’t listen to the Mommy Radar.
My ex-husband dropped of an extra pair of gloves on his way to work the next morning, so all seemed right in our world. Until I picked up my son after school and learned that the second pair of gloves had gone AWOL. I had a long and serious one-on-one conversation with his teacher at that point, and we both agreed that something seemed fishy. Someone was messing with my boy’s belongings, and that’s not okay.
Little Man headed off for school the next day with yet another pair of spare gloves from his father’s house (big sister’s purple gloves, which prompted a hearty “Oh, gawd, mother!” from him). When I picked him up at the end of the day, the teacher had her arm around him and he was crying. The purple gloves, it seemed, had survived the day, but his prized Batman hat had not. Worse, it turned out that another little boy had hit my baby near the end of the day. The other boy swore it was an accident, but the elbow to the gut hurt enough to make Little Man cry.
Two pair of gloves, a hat, and a blow to the tummy, all in one week?
Suffice it to say that I came unglued.
I made an absolute spectacle of myself, right there in the cafeteria. The poor teacher was almost in tears herself, and this is a woman who has been teaching a long time. She’s no sensitive little novice who is easily intimidated by an angry Mama Bear, but I think I may have frightened her. She assured me that the other boy’s parents had been contacted about the “incident” and that every single backpack, pocket, desk and cubby had been searched from top to bottom in search of the missing gloves and Batman hat.
“This ends now,” I fumed. “Something has got to take place here.”
“It will,” she promised.
I held my sobbing little boy and let him cry it out, right there in the cafeteria. Then we went home and had a little treat, followed by a busy evening at the school science fair and his big brother’s band concert. Throughout it all, my brave little soldier kept his chin up and didn’t shed another tear over the missing hat. His dad and I were careful to give him lots of extra attention and praise all evening.
Finally, I tucked him into bed, turned out the light, and went out to pick up the living room a bit. I put away toys, folded some laundry, picked up the afghans to drape them across the back of the couch where they belong.
And found the Batman hat.
He never wore it to school yesterday.
I am an ass.
So now, I have to apologize to the teacher and admit that I made a mistake. I was wrong. Sure, the two pairs of gloves are still gone, and he still got a pretty rough elbow to the tummy, but no one stole his Batman hat. And if I hadn’t been so pissed-off about the missing gloves or the other boy hitting my Little Man, I would have remembered that he left the house without a hat that morning because it was school picture day and he didn’t want to mess up his hair.
I’d love to just send the child to school in a different hat for the rest of the school year and pretend that my meltdown didn’t happen. Believe me, I am tempted. But this is one of those “teachable moments” that I despise. I’ve got to teach him that it’s never good to jump to conclusions and overreact to situations, and I’ve got to teach him the importance of being able to say those three god-awful words: I was wrong.
Right now, there are three other words running through my brain: Mama needs chocolate.
This post is part of Finish the Sentence Friday, in which writers and bloggers finish a sentence and “link up” their posts. This week’s sentence was “You wanna know what really grinds my gears…”
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