July 13, 2009

Bad Dog! Sit, Stay...Love

We took Max to Gulf Shores, AL for 4th of July Weekend. We met my sister and her family there and all piled into her condo for a couple of days of fun in the sun. Emily has three boys, so Max was alternately in heaven and crying hysterically because he was overwhelmed with all the chaos. I felt the same way inside, but thankfully, only Max was the one to roll on the floor in tears of frustration.

Max loved the beach, which is kind of weird in a kid that small. Usually, kids like the idea of the beach, but when it comes down to reality – sand in your butt, sunscreen in your eyes, jelly fish stinging your shins and super salty water up your nose – kids almost always like the pool better. Not Max. He got knocked down by waves and came up laughing foamy water out of his mouth.

His other big experience over the weekend was Oreos. I would love for you to believe that I am such a fantastic mother my son has never had Oreos because I limit sugar and only offer healthy snacks like apples and tree bark, but the truth is, I don’t like Oreos so I don’t buy them. More than once, Max has had gum for breakfast.

He really got into the Oreo thing with his cousins. They devoured a bag of Double Stuffs in seconds flat. It was a flurry of hands, crumbly chocolate and white stuff. In fact, someone left a rogue licked Oreo half on the coffee table and, the next morning, I noticed Max’s cousin eating it for breakfast. The Murphy Women are known for many things, but raising well-behaved and mild-mannered children is not one of them.

The next week, back at home, Max and I went to the grocery store. He was, miraculously, sitting in the cart and not running around like a wild boar, but that was because he did not have shoes on and he can’t read so he believed me when I told him the “Sale on Tomatoes” sign said “Kids without Shoes Have to Ride in the Cart.”

From this higher vantage point, he was able to spot the Oreos on the shelf and frantically demanded them. Not wanting any more of a scene than absolutely necessary in my neighborhood grocery, I did not even pretend to protest or read the label. This is the same child that knocked over a case of wine because I wasn’t paying enough attention.

I handed him the package of Oreos and he looked at me like I had just handed him the Holy Grail. He cocked his sweet little sweet little head to the side and asked, “What are these?”

I said, “They’re called Oreos.”

He looked at me kind of strange and quietly and slowly said, “I think they’re cookies.”

My son thinks I am mentally challenged, but at least he is sweet about it and didn’t call me a dumb ass. I guess that comes later when he is a teenager.

This experience with Max is one that I had repeatedly with other people last week, albeit on a larger scale. I had an experience with someone that caused me to lash out in anger because I felt like he was not respecting me and my position. Yeah, that went over well, let me tell you.

The other experience involved seeing someone I knew in Junior High and basically making a total ass of myself, but that will be a topic for another blog, when I am totally sure he does not read my blog.

In both of those situations, I felt like I came across wrong, that what I was trying to say and do was not clear and ultimately, I reacted from a place of fear – fear of losing something or fear of looking stupid. Fear, fear, fear – if I look back over my life and examine all of the times I blew up in anger or lashed out in “defense” of myself, it is always rooted in fear. I want you to like me and I want you to know that I am start, but by golly, you better not fucking cross me. I am like a bad dog – I greet you with a wagging tail, but if you scratch me in just the wrong place, I will take your arm off at the elbow and toss it around like chew toy.

This interaction with Max reminded me that I don’t have to be that way. I can go through the day with the knowledge that I am reasonably smart, kind and have good intentions and just plain not give a shit what anyone thinks of me. I didn’t care that Max thought I didn’t know what cookies were because, well it was hysterical and also because I DO know what cookies are and didn’t feel the need to explain that to him. Because I love him. Oh yeah, that reminds me, I am supposed to love everyone.

I guess if I looked at everyone through a filter of love instead of fear, then, well, it would be Oreos and milk and laughter every day, wouldn’t it?

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