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Well, it’s happened. Three and a half years on, and I have at last come across my parenting Waterloo. So many things could have triggered it before now:

  • Colic? Frazzled and one or two bad moments, but I held up OK.
  • A year of interrupted sleep? I was weary, but managed.
  • The restrictions that came with a year of nursing? I actually enjoyed these.
  • Tantrums? T. Berry got me through them with humor pretty much intact.
  • Massively delayed walking? First Steps and patience minimized the worry.
  • Potty training messes (ongoing)? Three plus years of cloth diapers make these no big deal.

So what has driven me to barely controlled fury?

“That’s not fair!”

Who knew that three tiny words could have such a huge impact? Simon unleashed this verbal salvo a few days ago, and my immediate anger caught us both by surprise. He said it in response to something I denied him: a game, treat, or the like. The look I shot back at him, complete with a clenched jaw, blazing eyes, and rigid back, must have said it all. He sat down and pouted in silence, while I walked away to regain my composure.

If I’m totally honest, I wasn’t just angry. I was filled with the sort of gut-level dislike that makes it easy to come down too hard on someone or to respond disproportionately. It was one of the very few times I’ve felt an urge to smack him. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to remove myself from the situation and screw my head back on.

Once the adrenalin quit pumping, I could see the incident through objective eyes, realize Simon is testing his own power and limits, and question whether he even understood what he said. He’s way too young to have the inflated sense of entitlement “That’s not fair” implies, and way too polite to demonstrate such ingratitude. And those were, for sure, the qualities that triggered my wrath.

Still, feeling so angry was humbling. And realizing that I’m going to hear “That’s not fair” for the next 19 years was sobering.

4 Responses to “Waterloo”

  1. Amanda says:

    My mom’s response to that always was, “Well, life isn’t fair. And this isn’t a democracy.”

  2. Jessica says:

    We really do have the same mother! Except mine was “Who said life was fair?” followed by “This isn’t a Democracy.”

  3. Amanda says:

    We really need to get Rita and Penny together sometime. I think they’d get on like a house afire.

  4. blg says:

    In our house it was, “life itself is basically unfair.”

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