ME: (Sitting on chair near living room, strumming guitar.)
B: (Rolling an empty fishing line spool around on the table. No, we don’t fish. Fifty-pound fishing line was our first lame attempt at making a fence around the garden. Well, at least it kept the deer out.
Oh, dear, there I go, digressing again. So B is rolling this thing on the table. Near where J is sitting drinking his afternoon tea. And near my jar of drinking water.)
ME: B, it is not a good idea to roll things around where there is liquid, like mugs of tea.
J: (Seems amused by B’s antics, alternately reading from his Kindle, sipping from his mug, and smiling as B tried to roll the spool toward him.)
(In other words, he is not helping.)
ME: (But there I sit, on my increasingly sagging derrier, strumming away and not enforcing what I just said.)
B: (Giggling at an increasingly “I’m getting wild and out of control” level.)
ME and J: (Obviously both brain-dead. Usually this kind of giggling puts us on high ADHD Disaster Potential alert.)
TWO MINUTES LATER…
B: (Spool getting away from him, so he grabs for it. Ever so cautiously, of course, looking carefully where his hand is going. But alas, his best efforts turn sour. Suddenly, J’s tea mug is overturned and tea goes everywhere.)
J: AARGH! Benjamin! Look what you’ve done! (Puts mug in sink, then stands and stares at the mess helplessly.)
ME: (Jumping up and practically throwing my guitar to the soft tile floor…) See, I told you not to do that! Why don’t you ever listen? (I start to yank placemats from the table and toss them into the sink, then direct my scolding toward J.) And you just let him keep on playing, even after I told him not to. (I forget for the moment that I haven’t actually told B not to. To whom I return my attention.) What is your problem? I’ve told you before – why can’t you generalize – AARGH! (My dead brain won’t even let me articulate a coherent sentence, so I just grab a clean storage dish out of the drainer to sweep as much of the table-size puddle of tea into as I can before I wipe the table off.)
B: I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to! (cringing away, closer and closer to the door. Then he turns the knob and disappears outside.)
ME: (I succeed in at least not allowing any more tea on the floor. I do not succeed in not berating J for his lousy discipline skills. I may have been kinder and gentler if he had jumped for one of the rags that I ALWAYS keep under the sink for cleaning purposes, as soon as the spill had happened. But he didn’t. So I wasn’t.)
No, B didn’t cry. He just knows when he needs to lay low. No, I didn’t make him help clean up. Are you KIDDING me?
Yes, my water jar is still in one piece. A bit of silver lining, shall we say. Yes, I know I am as imperfect as my husband. No, this kind of scenario doesn’t happen every day. But it is not unknown to us.
Yes, we still love and forgive each other. It’s what family does.