I Got the Wrong Guy

I realized this morning as I caught up again to the same guy who had been going 5 under the speed limit earlier and somehow taken a short cut I hadn’t yet discovered that it’s much easier to be angry at nobody than at somebody. Or at least at the wrong guy. I made some sort of quip directed vaguely at the bumper of the guy’s Ford barge that was partially a result of his driving choices and partly of my ignorance of the short cut, which in any case would still have put me behind him the whole way.

As the painting and unwallpapering is at a stopping point and the move has happened, or at least all of our stuff is in the new house and mostly waiting to be put where it goes, I’ve realized how stressful it’s all been on all of us, including some of our dear friends who have sweated and bled with us in the process. (Yes, I mean that literally.) I’m just lately starting to catch up on sleep, as are my wife and lovely chilluns, who I fear have borne the brunt of the worst of my exhaustion.

Why is it that it’s easy to let loose on the kids when other people who know me well don’t ever see that side of me, unless they happen to be in the room? Clearly they’re not the ones who cause me the level of angst I display at times towards them, but then who is, since no one else seems to present themselves as a reasonable target? To be fair, it isn’t often that my frustrations come out towards them in a way I regret later and have to ask them to forgive me for. But it’s happened lately, and more frequently than I like – which I suppose when I think of it equates to any frequency at all.

Perhaps it’s what they represent – not the generational or genetic prospects, but the in-the-moment representation of That Which Thwarts My Desires. I get this upset with them only when they don’t do what I want them to, and not when they invent some sort of mischief on their own. When they won’t stay at the dinner table, for example, or when they don’t stop antagonizing each other. Most often though the moments i’m least proud of happen when they won’t stay in their wonderfully far away bedrooms and lie quietly and go to sleep and let me enjoy the 60 or 90 minutes a day I get alone downstairs with Amber at the end of our long days. In these moments they’re reduced in my perception to little No-fairies. I want to rest. No. I want to watch a movie. No. I want to have an uniterrupted conversation. No. I want to be done with responsiblities for the day No. I want to – No.

And of course in my lesser moments I’m not tuned in to what’s actually happening in their world, whether a request or protest is bona fide or manipulative, or frustrations and fears are genuine or contrived. I see through my own lenses, and all they tend to show is what I’m not getting that I should be. Cooperation. Respect. Rest. Things done. Time. Parts of my life back. They’re really wonderful kids with genuine desires and valuable things to say.

So who am I angry at then? What I express to them is coming from somewhere, it’s greater than the sum of the circumstances, and I know it’s real because I’m not characteristically like that. And it’s not them, it’s me. But it’s not even really me. The last four years have been an exercise in not getting what I want, in a variety of ways in a variety of areas of life. And it’s taken its toll on me in ways I don’t think I’ve really comprehended yet. So what that leaves me with is a bunch of stuff under my skin tha’s got nowhere to go but in until I find some helpful and healthy way to blow it off. A friend and I have been joking that I should get myself a baseball bat and an old tire in my backyard and just have at it. Which would certainly help in times like that, and would divert the energy away from more harmful outlets. But which also would leave the causes unaccounted for, and so ultimately not fix the issue. Anger is ok. Inordinate amounts of anger, anger directed at the wrong target, and anger unmitigated by other contributing factors are not ok. And I can’t haven’t yet been able to navigate that last list.

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  1. jeofurry
    June 12, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Found your blog from a comment/linkback at JSS. The statement about the no fairy really hits home. I have three kids and I know what you mean. Actually, I feel like I can relate to pretty much the whole post.

  2. June 13, 2008 at 6:05 am

    Hey jeofurry
    Thanks for dropping in. Glad to know there are others trying to navigate the anger maze and still love their kids.

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