a thin line

I honestly hate one of my children right now.

I typed it into Facebook and paused, the pointed tip of the mouse arrow hovering in the gray area between my private thoughts and the public stream.

Hate wasn't the right word, even if maybe it really fucking was.

I googled "synonym for hate," and frowned. Loathe, detest, despise, dislike, abhor, be repelled from, be unable to understand, find intolerable, shrink from.

I had hoped that a quick scan of the search results would give me the perfect word, scratch the itch exactly where it buzzed behind my shoulder blade. But each option was just a little off.

Most were appropriately passionate, but too permanent - loathe, detest, abhor. These aren't feelings that can be vanished with a glass of water or a little voice calling "Mommy?" And even when my children's diapers have leaked directly into my hands, I have never felt repelled from them.

Others were accurate, but bloodless. I'd typed this Facebook status with brutal punches of the keyboard; dislike, be unable to understand, and find intolerable haven't been harsh burns since Jane Austen, and yo this isn't Sense and Sensibility. This is Grand Theft Auto: Street Justice; I'm Warning You, Don't Push That Button, Son Special Edition.

I honestly... 

Hm. Maybe if I review the crimes, I can get some clarity on the sentence.

Chicken had to be fetched by a teacher twice in the four minutes I was picking him up from school today. He bolted down the hall while I was still cleaning up his lunch (a job, by the way, that is totally his fucking responsibility and he knows it.)

He bolted into the front tulip garden that greets families new to the school, crushing the bright green stems under his light-up sneakers.

He fell to his knees and screamed when I told him that he would no longer be attending the scheduled play date in his friend's backyard.

When we got home, I asked him to get out of the car and walk to the front door while I got Buster. He ran to the driveway spigot and twisted it open, full bore. I dragged him inside with one hand as he dangled, whining, and I yanked off his cold, wet jeans.




I settled Buster with a sandwich at the table and came back into the playroom to find a basket of diapers overturned, and Chicken throwing them by grunting handfuls down the stairs to the front door.

oh
and shoes
he threw shoes too


"Pick them up," I said.

"I'm not going to," he said.

So I picked him up, gritting my teeth to keep my hands gentle, and carried him to my bed. I said, "that's not cool at all, babe. Now I have to spend your quiet time cleaning up a mess, instead of setting up a game for us, or even just doing something that I wanted to do. That really is not cool at all."

He said, "that's fine. I'll set up the game when I'm done with quiet time."

I said, "no, you won't, because..."

I flipped through my mental diary of Things Chicken Loves and imagined tearing the pages out, one by one, right in front of him.

While you are resting I will take every book in this house and put them in the back of the car, and when you wake up we are going to take them to Goodwill and you will never see them again. 
Gymnastics and School are done forever, and so is FaceTiming Nana and Grandma. 
Say adios to your scooter. 
Give Tigey a hug good-bye.

Now, as I type those words, I am shocked at my cruelty, but also comforted by it.

This fantasy was so vivid and delicious in my mind that it actually lowered my heart rate. I enjoyed the fantasy of punishing him the way he appeared to enjoy punishing me on our journey from school to nap. The score was even. I felt better. He'll never know what I was thinking as I stood, silently staring at the air in front of his face, the swell of my anger deflating as steadily and anticlimactically as a penis.

There is a world of difference between imagining what you'd like to do, and imagining actually doing it.

Of course, I cannot even imagine leveling that kind of punitive retribution at an almost-four-year-old who threw his Pampers at naptime. Come on, that would be like banning all Muslims from entering the US after a single incident of terrible violence across the world. It would be an insane overreaction driven by fear and pride rather than perspective or compassion, and it would hurt way more than help, is what I'm saying.

As soon as I imagine actually saying those words to him - Give Tigey a hug good-bye - all my vicious pleasure vanishes and sorrow rushes to fill the void.

I'm honestly baffled by Chicken right now.

I'm honestly annoyed. No, I'm going to be real here and say that I'm honestly super-pissed. That was a strong threepeat of dick moves in rapid succession, and I'm only one woman who has never been that good at holding her tongue or her temper.

I returned to the Facebook window where the status waited, unposted.

What's on your mind?

It would be neat to conclude that I then posted, "I honestly love one of my children right now" on Facebook.

I didn't though, because love isn't a diva; it doesn't take center stage very often. Almost always, for me, love is the stage that gives other feelings solid ground from which to command our attention; love is the light that gives other feelings a spot to shine - delight, laughter, understanding, safety, trust, forgiveness, peeing with the door open, knowing how everyone likes their eggs - all this and more takes its curtain call in the house that love built.

So, of course, I love them. Right now and always. But I'm also hungry.

I'm going to eat a yogurt, and when I come back I'm going to look for an SNL clip to post on Facebook. Kate McKinnon's been killing it this season.

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