The cause

When I was a kid/teenager, it never occurred to me how much longer my transgressions must linger for my parents than they did for me. It never occurred to me that my mother might still be examining and re-examining what happened, why it happened and what she could do to get me back on course, long after I had been released from my room or had my phone privileges restored or my butt had stopped stinging from that evil wooden spoon.

It is only the second day of school. I knew the morning struggles would start up eventually, but I thought we might at least make it through the first week. Instead, day 2 starts with a pretty epic outburst from the son and a completely epic reaction from me. The details probably aren’t necessary. It suffices to say it involved Ace’s defiance and impulsivity, a butter knife and my deepest fears. The end result is that I completely lost it with him and I’m sitting here almost 2 hours later with my knots in my chest and a tension headache.

Ace is off at school, most likely completely fine. This morning’s struggles are probably long forgotten. Sometimes I’m a bit jealous of his ADHD because he lives so completely in the moment that bad feelings and worries don’t linger for long. They are wispy, insubstantial things that blow easily away on the wind. Ace is an expert in moving on.

I, on the other hand, will sit with the memory of the conflict heavy in my chest for hours and hours. Part of it is my worrying nature, but part of it is my position as parent. I have to examine what happened. I have to try and tease out the real moment it started, not with the butter knife, but before that . . . . was it when he fought with Tink or when I told him to come downstairs or when I took his DS or is it the pressure of having to get ready for school quickly again? Was my anxiety about this big transition feeding into his mood? Should I have reacted with such force? Did the situation warrant it? How could it have played out differently? What was the cause? The cause?

I’ll ask myself these questions all day, looking for the answer, questioning my own part in the interaction, trying to decide on how to best handle it this afternoon — let it go, talk it out, table it until we see the psychologist — and how to best handle it if, god forbid, it ever happens again. I’ll also be trying to figure out how to teach him to never to do it again, how to best manage his formidable anger, how to recognize that it is not his world and he must bend for other people, as they bend for him. My deepest fear is that I will not succeed in teaching him these critical lessons . . . that he will not learn. I can’t even give voice to what happens then.

So I’ll spend the day turning it over and over, looking for an answer because it is my job . . . because I love Ace . . . because I am his mother.