When your own children gaslight you
December 15, 2016
I just got all the kids off to school and I am FUMING and I need to sit down a minute and FOCUS and CHILL and THINK CONSTRUCTIVELY. It's either this or tear into all the candy I bought for teacher presents.
I feel like I can't have nice things, and I can't have nice things because I have kids and a husband. And my standard for Nice Things is VERY VERY LOW. As in, a playroom that isn't covered in Legos. A bedroom with art above the bed and clothes put away. Toilets that aren't growing things. A living room where you can sit down.
I CAN have these things, but only if I 1) yell and scream and stomp my feet and FUH-REAK OUT on people, or 2) do it myself.
I end up doing it myself, almost always, even when I WANT to scream at everyone at make them do it becauuuuuse often by the time I realize no one made their beds or they didn't pick up what I asked them to pick up or remember what I told them to remember, everyone is gone for the day and it's just me at home. And I could save up my rage all day and let it out when they get home, or I could do it myself, breathe, and try to think about how to make things better.
Except I can't figure out how to make things better. Not REALLY better.
My ideas for Sorta Better are as follows. Ahem.
- Make a giant poster that says BEFORE YOU HAVE BREAKFAST, YOU MUST: WASH YOUR FACE, COMB YOUR HAIR, BRUSH YOUR TEETH, AND MAKE YOUR BED. DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT BREAKFAST BEFORE THESE THINGS UPON PENALTY OF NO IPAD FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES. And taping to the cupboard with the cereal.
- Take time at night to lay out clothes, pack lunches, make sure everyone has picked up rooms and put away their clothes, instead of slogging through the pajamas/books/bed like zombies and then passing out on the couch in front of Netflix like I usually do. (Unrealistic? Requires personality transplant? Cooperation from the other parent?)
- Find a way to talk to them when they get home from school in a way that actually makes a difference and ISN'T me screaming. (HAAAAAAA)
Because I hate screaming, you guys, I really really do. It makes me even more mad. Because what are they supposed to do while I'm screaming? The moment I'm upset about is long past, most of the time, and there's nothing they can actually go do. I never make their beds for them and rarely pick up specific messes - I do make them do that later on - but things like "don't leave giant globs of toothpaste in the sink" are probably daily issues and I don't see them unless I go in the kids' bathroom (which I don't have to do anymore on account of having spent their college fund on my own bathroom) or when they put clean clothes in the hamper so they don't have to put them away.
Clearly 99% of the problem is that Phillip and I are incredibly lazy and often choose the path of least resistance and conflict and while we ARE getting better at having the kids help with the house, none of us Cheungs are consistent about anything and there's no obvious Cleaning Up routine. It's "We're having dinner in 15 minutes, put everything away!" and "I need you to clean up all your dolls before school" and there isn't enough time and "OH MY GOD STOP DOING THAT AND DO THE THING I TOLD YOU TO DO." And things that I think ARE clear expectations - comb your hair! before the last minute! - are daily fights.
Sometimes I think: if I worked, if I was GONE all day and not STARING at all the things that make me RAGEY, maybe this would be better. But I think that's probably wrong. I wonder if it would even be worse, because my options would still be scream/do it myself, except with way less time to do it, including time spent darkly brooding on the couch with a mug of Ear Grey/half and half/Splenda.
Then there are things like: Jack couldn't find his black binder that holds his copied piano music from lessons. It wasn't anywhere. Not in the car, not by the piano, not in the entry way where everyone leaves their crap for me to yell about, not in our HOUSE, SURELY IT MUST BE AT THE PIANO TEACHER'S HOUSE!!! I even texted our teacher to ask. We had to skip lessons yesterday on account of holiday madness so it wasn't the worst thing ever, but then this morning when I was rushing around looking for the reindeer antlers Emma was supposed to wear to school, and were no longer hanging on the hook by her backpack where I put them because some child had made off with them, I saw a black binder. On Jack's desk. On top of a giant mess of papers. Like, there was a giant mess on Jack's desk, but a black binder was sitting on top of all of it, in plain view. I opened it. Fur Elise.
AND NOW I AM RAGEY. I can't even yell at him about it, because he's at school, and the next time I see him he'll be performing with the after school drama class and I'll be so happy and proud and this, like everything else, will go Unaddressed. My family is constantly gaslighting me and I'm going to die of it. It must not be here. No one can find it! It wasn't anyone's fault! No one knows what I'm talking about! They'll just nod and stare slightly to the left while I yell at them, waiting until I'm done and they can go make their next mess and I'm left to slooooooowly go insane.
I JUST DON'T WANT TO YELL, OKAY?