“Mommy, can we please use your makeup?”
“But please? We asked really nicely. We want to play nicely together.”
“That’s sweet, and you did ask nicely. Thank you. But the answer is still no about my makeup. I’m sure you can find something else to play nicely together with.”
“But we really want to use it and we never get to and we’ll be really careful and we’ll be good for the rest of today and we’ll go to bed really early and not come back downstairs and we’ll be good tomorrow too.”
“I’m sure you’ll do all of that anyway because you’re such great kids. The answer is still no. I’m not going to change my mind.”
“But why, Mommy?”
“This isn’t open for discussion. I said no.”
Luke has a hard time with no. Many kids do, I realize, but every other kid on the planet (I’m pretty sure) will drop it eventually. Not Luke. He will take this to the nth degree. I don’t want to engage. I have a nice evening planned and I don’t want to have to take it away. I want to drop this so we can move on. So I’m staying calm, remaining firm, and not giving him any reasons why. That’s what I’m supposed to do, right? That’s what the books say.
“No. Please stop asking me.”
“This isn’t open for discussion.”
“But just tell me why. Why can’t we?”
“I’m not changing my mind and you’re going to make me angry. It’s time to drop it. Luke, really, stop.”
“But just tell me why?”
I don’t answer. It’s over if I don’t say anything, right?
“Mom? Mom? Mom? You can’t ignore me. What if I got a knife and cut my head off, would you ignore me then? Mom? Why? Why can’t we use your makeup? Why? I don’t get it. You’re so mean. Mom? We’ll be really good. We just want to play together. Isn’t that what you want? That we play nicely together? If you don’t let us use your makeup I’m going to punch Sally in the face and break her things and it will be your fault. Would that make you happy?”
“Luke, this is me warning you. I’m starting to lose my patience. You need to stop yourself. Now.”
“Just tell me why!”
“This is the last warning. I’m getting angry. Do you understand?”
My voice is still calm and even. I am going to diffuse this fucking thing if it’s the last fucking thing I fucking do. He storms away, knocking a book to the floor. I let it slide, not needing to lock horns with him now over picking up that book. I hope this is over. It’s not. He comes back with a note that says: “You are a jerk.”
“Go to your room.”
“No, I’m sorry. Why? I didn’t say anything. I didn’t mean it. It’s not about you. No, please no. Please, please, please no. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
“I’m angry now like I warned you. Now go to your room please!”
Speaking sternly, but still not yelling. I’m going to fucking win this fucking thing!
“No I’m really really really sorry. Here, I’ll write another note about being sorry.”
“Luke, go to your room!”
And there it is, folks. The last straw. He hasn’t budged towards his room. He is staring me down. Calling me a jerk to my face and defying me. I’ve been here before. There is only one way to get him to actually go to his room. The only thing that works. Why did I put it off for so long anyway? I scream at him:
“YOUR ROOM NOW, LUKE! GO! GO! GO! NOW!”
“I hate you! You are such a jerk!”
He stomps off to his room.
And this is how it goes here. I can’t win. No matter my intentions or mood to start, no matter how calm I remain through so much disrespectful behavior, he eventually pushes me over the edge. Every time. If I didn’t blow up then he would have escalated further – hitting his sister and destroying stuff. He will always get the reaction he wants eventually.
He wins again and I lose. Of course his win is a loss for all of us.