big jerk


I have lost my status as the seemingly cool, adoring, irreplaceable parent.  I knew it was coming.  I have always known that one day they wouldn’t need me anymore.  Wouldn’t want me anymore.  But, it doesn’t make the demotion any easier.  In just one day I learned that I was annoying, weird, embarrassing and not nice… all of which were just warm-ups for the closing act.

Read on.

Abigail dropped the “a” word casually over the weekend, seemingly unphased by the weight of it.  We were talking about Trevor, how we missed him and when he was coming home.

“I am kinda tired of you.  I’ve been with you for months.  You’re kind of annoying,” she stated.  So matter of fact.  So, check me out, I’m in the third grade and I know things.

I was cramming French fries into my mouth and remember pausing, reluctantly, to cock my head and fire back, “Annoying?  I annoy you?” I was hoping that the response would be a softer, apologetic, juvenile giggle of embarrassment with words like “well no, not really” uttered under her breath.

Instead, her quick retort was something along the lines of, “well , yeah,” (like, no duh Mom, everyone here knows that about you).  Super.  Fantastic.  Wonderful.  The nine-year-old is annoyed.

That same evening, we got to talk (or rather coo) to my niece and nephew (yes, that’s right, nephew – there’s a boy in the family!).  In the midst of the questions, the viewing of the babe and the impromptu piano recital, I was taking advantage of the camera and conversing with the darling 10-day-old, who, for the record, was totally into me.

Fia was not.

“Mom, would you stop being so weird?” she implored.

“What?” I asked, stunned at the implication and a little annoyed that I had to take my eyes off of Mr. I-know-I’m-so-cool-because-I’m-the-first-boy.

“Weird.  You are being weird.  Stop talking like that,” she insisted, although she tried to soften the blow by laying her hand on my arm.

Wow.  OK.  But, I had to ask – “Fia, am I embarrassing you?”

“Just stop being weird,” she told me again, her tone pleading.  Super.  Fantastic.  Wonderful.  The six-year-old is embarrassed.

It can’t get any worse.  I mean what issues could the three-year-old have, really?  The kid can’t sleep without me.  She still lunges for my legs at preschool drop-off.  She loves me.


While putting away the toys in the garage and waiting for the big girls to come home from Brownies, Evie blurted out, “Mom, I want to go live with Ms. Page.”

“Really?  Why?” I asked, trying to sound casual. I mean, maybe that isn’t a bad plan, some days I think I’d like her to go live with Ms. Page too.

No. I didn’t say that to her.  She’s my girl; surely, daughter number three could not be turning on me too.

She didn’t hesitate.  She looked me dead in the eyes and said, “Ms. Page is nicer than you.  I want her to be my mommy.”  Ouch.

Super.  Fantastic.  Wonderful.  The three-year-old is moving out.

No matter.  I poured myself some wine.  Put the kids to bed.  Laughed as I sat and played the past day over in my mind.

And, then, Tuesday morning dawned.

I wake up about 5:40 everyday.  I feed the animals.  Pour my coffee (pre-programmed of course).  Pack lunches.  Pack book bags.  Get breakfast started.  I wake the kids up at 6:30.  And then I pray.  What happens in the next forty minutes is never predictable.  It is not pretty.  I pray for 7:15 when the bus pulls away and they are gone.

But, on this particular morning Abigail had a meltdown over her clothes (my fault that she laid out an outfit she didn’t like).  She had a meltdown over her hair (my fault that the comb is stuck on a huge knot in the back of her head).  She had a meltdown over her life (yes, my fault too).  I said not a word except to remind her that breakfast was ready.

“You are such a big jerk!” she screamed at me as she went stomping through the kitchen on the way to find another shirt that she was bound to be unhappy with and blame me for.

Yeah,  Go back.  Re-read.

A.  Big.  Jerk.

I had to talk myself out of physically hurting her and I grabbed the closet thing at hand that seemed reasonable and appropriate, the hand soap pump.

I dragged her ass into her bedroom and put her on her bed and while she sat there with her mouth covered and her eyes wide, shaking her head no and screaming into her hands, I stuck the nozzle between her fingers and into the corner of her mouth. I hesitated only briefly because in my moment of hesitation I realized that she was snickering behind those hands.

I pumped.  Once.

Her eyes grew wider in disbelief.  She never thought I would really do it.  But, I did.  And then, I made her sit there for one minute while I lectured her about the zero-tolerance policy for name calling in our house.  And, in case you forgot dear, I am your mother and you are nine.  Nine.  Save the big guns until you can justify them with a number that ends with –teen.

One minute of soap.  No breakfast.  She had to stay in her room until I called her out to leave for school, which, I now had to drive them to since this episode prevented us from catching the bus.

Fia and Evie were silent at the end of the counter.  They stared at me when I came back to the kitchen.  No one, not even me, could believe what had just happened.  I stood at the sink. Put the soap back.  Walked over to continue breakfast clean-up.

“Are you mad, Mommy?” Fia questioned tentatively.

“That scared me Mommy,” Evie whimpered.

“I know one thing, I am never saying that word,” Fia boldly declared.

“Wise decision,” I told her.  I walked to the coffee pot.  Poured a fresh cup.  Took a few breaths.

Had  I overreacted?  Was I being fair?  I felt so guilty.  I was so pissed.  And, I needed to win because I wasn’t convinced that soap in her mouth would really be enough of a message for Abigail.  So . . . I unpacked her running club gear;  no afterschool practice today.  I decided that she needed to lose something BIG and spend some well-earned time in her room with herself thinking about how she was going to get back at me for ruining her day (or, maybe her life, but she is only nine).

She came home.  Took a snack to her room.  Spent ninety silent minutes alone.  She came out smiling.  She hasn’t mentioned the soap.   She isn’t scarred for life.  Maybe she learned a lesson or two.  Maybe not.

But, girls, so you know:

I am annoying.  Glad we got that out of the way.

And, I am weird and embarrassing.  Get used to it.

And, if you think you’d like to move out, I’m cool with that.  You’ll be back.

As for the big jerks, they are out there.  You will know when you meet one because that will be when you sit back and realize that your mother is super.




4 Responses to “big jerk”

  1. 1 Lynne Sanderson

    All good mom’s are annoying and embarrasing. If they aren’t … they aren’t doing their job!!! I was very annoying myself … ask Brian … he will tell you I still am! 🙂 If you want to be VERY ANNOYING … just tell them if you didn’t love them so much, you wouldn’t care what came out of their mouth, that always gets a good eyeball roll… Oh and just for the record … You are amazing and your daughters are too!!!

  2. Good for you! My 9 year old has been full of attitude around here lately. My fault as well. I think I will refill my soap dispenser so it will be ready! 🙂
    And, just for the record – you are one of the coolest, non-annoying, non-embarrassing people I know and I feel cool just by being your friend.

  3. 3 Kim B

    I love it! I used some on Caroline/Christopher and they thought I was going to kill them. I told them not to worry because it was organic soap!! What a jerk, huh?

  4. 4 Jenise Murray

    This thirty-seven-year-old thinks you are an Awesome Mama! Abbey is a smart girl. She’ll learn to find a non-name calling outlet for her frustration. And only because you refused to tolerate unacceptable hurtful behavior. I Admire you for it.

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