Say ‘What?’ Again

Tonight I’m pondering one of my favorite scenes from one of my dearly loved pre-mom movies, Samuel L. Jackson’s rant in “Pulp Fiction” right before poor Brett meets his bloody doom.

What he said.

What he said.

I used to watch movies like that all the time. I think I saw that particular flick nine times in the theater. It’s still an epic film, but I haven’t seen it in the last decade. I’m shocked to see the movie is 20 years old this year, because that makes me old as hell.

Still, I clearly remember that scene because I know exactly how Jules feels as he dares a stammering white kid caught in a crime to “Say ‘What?’ again!” and other much more colorful suggestions.

Any time my children look at me with blank expressions and utter the w-word as I bust them, I want to strike down upon them with great vengeance and furious anger straight from my own fake Bible verse (McGinziel 2:16).

It’s even worse when Honey Bunny and Pumpkin team up on a heist. Like Jules in that restaurant booth, I want to help. I want to talk them out of their bad decisions, retrieve my wallet (mine just says “BAD MOTHER” on it) and deal with the dead body in my trunk while they run off together for more wacky hijinks.

Tonight they each managed to separately invoke the wrath of each parent, which is unusual. My husband is the more mellow, Vincentesque of the two of us, but I just heard the Wee Man ascend the stairs at a bawl. The Roo got her marching orders from me earlier tonight.

I try to keep us from ever getting to that point. I made a nice meal tonight, to include homemade semi-healthy, gluten-free brownies with hidden beets. No, not the delicious, soul- and body-killing stuff my mom would’ve made, but it was still my attempt at a good evening and a little extra love.

It didn’t quite go the way I planned, but it wasn’t a total loss. I got a hit of my drug of choice — the beet treats are nothing if not VERY chocolatey (Now that is a TASTY brownie!). I’m about to step away from this computer and head upstairs to chat with each of them about what happened and how to feel better before they go to sleep.

I used to bend over backwards to keep the peace. It’s a self-imposed duty like Butch’s determination to retrieve his father’s gold watch. But I’ve realized it’s not my job to make people happy — that’s impossible. I can’t make anyone feel anything. If I could, I’d make my kids feel like they’d consumed another plant-based brownie all the time so they’d be far less inclined to fight or kill my own sugar high.

But conflict isn’t inherently bad. It’s an impetus for growth. Anger isn’t inherently bad. Sometimes it’s even justified. And if I deal with my anger in a healthy way, my kids learn a lot from that, too.

So I’ll take a deep breath, listen to their outraged victim stories and gently remind them what they did to end up in their rooms. I’ll suggest ways to make amends and avoid similar trouble in the future. I’ll remind them they’re exactly who they should be and encourage them to be who they are. I’ll tell them how thankful I am to be their mom, how much I love them and wish them a good night.

And then I’ll come downstairs, hit the brownies again and decide this wasn’t such a bad night after all.

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/hoyvinmayvin/5104399796/”>Profound Whatever</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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