It was not a moment to be proud of; but it happened all the same. I was seething with envy, so filled with jealousy, it had to be evident to anyone who bothered to notice. Even as the volume increased, the annoyance was touched with a bit of admiration for the full-blown expulsion and expression of outrage. Our 3-year-old son was – having a meltdown. An impressive one at that. He was shrieking and crying, heels and fists pounding the floor, his body rotating in circles with the non-verbal message of “Back Off.”
He was going to pitch this hissy fit regardless of our attempts to soothe or reason with him. I was envious because it looked like it was pretty darn cathartic. God knows the last couple of days were enough to try the patience of a saint and very few people had ever branded me with that title.
It started with my boss and I messing around with our new laptop. I have been using it from home to access the work computer and was having some issues. Since many of our upcoming events will be through a popular meeting site, I had to learn how to use it. I just could not get the audio/visual to work, we were working together over the telephone and by remote computer access, when suddenly, he made some sort of adjustment and boom! We could see each other on the screen.
It was not good.
I looked like there might have been some mental health and personal grooming issues involved. I had my hair held back with a red bandana, short tufts of hair sticking out every which way — it was frightening. Not a bit of makeup on and a ratty t-shirt proclaiming, “Camp Chaos — Head Counselor.” Even worse, one of our cats was in the process of delivering a hairball right behind me on the screen. The boss and I both sort of went bug eyed and stared at each other from 40 miles or so and for a minute;I wondered if I could just fake a power loss with the computer. Unfortunately, he could see everything I was doing so, I just acted as if there was not one single darn weird thing going on.
Other discoveries made while working from home include, I am the only person capable of consistently putting anything where it belongs. Laundry, toys, dishes, food, you name it. If I ask Sparky to put an item away — usually shoes or a dinosaur — he will deliberately put it anywhere except where it is supposed to go. He has stuffed boots into the fridge, shoes into the litterbox, toybox, under the recliner, into the bathtub. Ditto with toys. The whole time he will be saying “I think it goes here….” If, along the way, he finds something else to drag out, he happily does that as well, despite being warned to “don’t touch”, “leave it along” or “that’s not a toy”.
When confronted with his mischief, he tries to blame it on the cat or to scream his way out of trouble. It would be easier (and quicker) to just pick up everything myself, but the role of a parent should be to help their child grow into a person that someone else will be able to live with some day. Having expectations of someone else cleaning up after them all the time is not going to work; for anyone. So, I have been gritting my teeth and having the same conversation 300 times a day.
Another conversation revolves around his case of early onset male refrigerator blindness. This is the complete inability for males to see something in the refrigerator even when it is directly in front of them. This can range from a bottle of mustard to — one time —an 11- pound ham that was taking up the entire top shelf. Sparky tends to stick to cheese slices. He opens the door and gazes unseeing for five minutes at a time despite the package being right in front. Pointing it out does not help — he must be handed the piece of cheese before it becomes visible. Unfortunately, he will often take a single bite of the cheese and leave it someplace secret for later snacking. In the last few weeks, I have probably located and dispatched two pounds of partially eaten cheese slices. I am bemused to how many surfaces cheese will stick too and disgusted by our now steady stream of ants trolling the house. I find myself checking the sides of the toilet bowl for cheese and cramming my fingers between seat cushions for dairy-based snacks. It’s gross.
While these antics are taking place, work must continue. I slowly work on projects with new software and fewer resources than typical and the frustration at not being a quicker learner overflows at times. I had spent hours working on a document when the Internet connection was lost and the whole day’s work disappeared. An obscenity expressing rage burst forth and I stomped away from my workspace in frustration. I did not think too much about the incident, until the next day. Sparky was in the yard, playing with his tractor when all at once, this sweet little voice bellowed “D*@&#t! This piece of crap doesn’t work!” Yup, almost word for word what I had screeched the day before. Great. Now I am going to be the cause of our son being blackballed from pre-school for a potty mouth.
There were other incidents, but the final straw for me was when I decided to clean the carpet and discovered a part was broken on the shampooer. Frustrated, I asked the two primary culprits if they knew anything about the broken tank. Sparky went into full meltdown after being reminded it was a “hands off tool”, betraying his guilt. For a moment I considered pitching an identical hissy fit, even while realizing it may result in: a) passing out from lack of oxygen, b) wetting my pants, c) pulling a muscle, or d) being unable to get back up off the floor. Possibly all four.
This mental visualization was enough to make me take a deep breath and step away. I am not saying that hissy fit won’t be pitched — just not today. I hope everyone else is managing their stress in a healthful manner and if not, I have a 3-year-old who has a sure fire (for him) coping mechanism who can do a demonstration via Zoom.
Written and submitted by Sarah Roush for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.