Tag Archives: Arguments

Raising People

16 Jan


My kids don’t listen. Not really.

They’re great kids and objectively perfect but still, their casual disregard for questions I ask or advice offered is incredibly frustrating. Particularly for someone who gave these human beings life. Often, it seems, that I cannot adequately capture their attention without raising my voice. I can say the same thing nicely 7 times and no one listens to me until I scream it the 8th.

Raising people is hard work indeed.

Tonight, while having dinner, I tried to talk to my son about his day and an upcoming project. He was impatient and impertinent and exasperated. It is entirely possible he inherited these traits from me but I am not a stranger in the customer service department trying to navigate him through a maddening situation. I am his mother. He should be kind. He should want to listen to me. He should want to hear what I have to tell him. My words may one day provide some type of guidance for him that he currently seems to think unnecessary.

After multiple attempts at conversation, I was thoroughly disenchanted with this boy who I usually let get away with everything.

“Fine! You are cleaning up the entire kitchen tonight!”

“Fine. I don’t care.”

I don’t know if this was the most ridiculous form of punishment ever or simply an order to do a chore he should have been doing regularly for years. Regardless, I issued this edict and he was going to follow it.

He donned rubber gloves and filled the sink with water and soap while I sat on the computer playing Solitaire. He was not flustered by this task and remained cavalier and unapologetic.

“You know, I buy all the things I need to make you the food you love. I prepare a nice dinner. I try to sit with you and talk to you and make sure you are doing everything you need to be doing so you can be the best you, and you can’t even answer a question?”

“Is this pot supposed to have all this black stuff at the bottom?”


“How do you get it off?”

“Figure it out.”

After a few more games of Solitaire, I tried another tack.

“Do you think everything is so easy? It is work to remove that black stuff. It is work to cook and clean and do all these things. Your only job is to treat me with respect. I’m ashamed that you cannot even do that.”

Finally, he broke.

“I’m sorry, Mom! I’m sorry! I apologize. I apologize. I apologize.”

Wet rubber gloves, floating soap bubbles, and tear-stained cheeks, he clasped me around the waist, heaving. He sat down on my lap, and clung to me.

“I’m a bad person,” he whispered.

“You are not. Why would you think that?”

“Because I was mean to you.”

“You are a wonderful person. You were badly behaved and even wonderful people don’t always act the way they should.”

“I’m sorry. It will never happen again. I love you.”

I love him too. And it will happen again but I’ll be ready for it and also, the kitchen will be spotless.