Saturday, September 17, 2011

The trivialities that lead to a parent's undoing

Published for KSL.con (click HERE for the link)

I watched my dad open the box on his dresser, looking for the fingernail clippers I had asked to borrow. He had hesitated — much longer than such a simple request warranted — and had agreed only under the condition that the clippers never leave his sight.

This strange behavior should have induced me to hightail it out of the room, but instead, I stayed to observe my dad's temporary undoing. Discovering that the clippers were not in the box, Dad began to twitch, rant, fume, gesture and utter strange noises.

Dad had officially fallen off his rocker.

Over a pair of nail clippers? Ridiculous. I was 12, and I promised my future children right then and there that I would never fly off the handle over such trivialities.

In hindsight, that particular promise may have been a bit rash.

It began subtly, the disappearance of stuff. Scissors. Tape. Pens and pencils. At first, I attributed it to the onset of senility. But when the misplaced items were recovered in places such as kids’ bedrooms, my suspicions shifted and I forced myself to face the truth that my kids were less than perfect.

So I took action.

Lovingly, I explained to the kids why items needed to be returned to their rightful places after use. The next week, an entire box of markers disappeared.

Sternly, I laid out the consequences should particular things not be found in their proper places. Soon afterwards, my daughter came in the house wielding a spoon and knife she had found partially buried under a tree in the backyard.

Menacingly, I attached larger penalties to specific infractions. A few weeks later, upon opening the hatch of my Suburban in the Target parking lot, I found one of our cordless phones on the rear bumper. How it hadn't fallen off in transit I'll never know.

Regrettably, "leaving phones on car bumpers" hadn’t been on the list of infractions.

I started to put items in impossible-to-access places. Kids accessed them. I hid things, only to have them found by resourceful search parties.

I refused to replace the Scotch tape. We actually went without it until I decided I was a little embarrassed to send kids to birthday parties toting gifts accessorized with packing tape. It was a pride thing.

I even offered duplicates. My teenage daughter received both a hair dryer and flat iron for Christmas, leaving me puzzled when mine went missing again so quickly. Turns out I hadn't figured quality into the equation. If the replacements aren't of equal or greater value to the original items, they are of no practical use to the recipients.

My patience finally disappeared along with my makeup. Seconds before reaching the end of my rope, I had an idea.

I decided that my daughter needed the gift of make-up for her birthday. Not just any make-up, but make-up that was better than mine. As luck would have it, this wouldn’t be hard on the budget since I spend next to nothing on cosmetics.

I congratulated myself for such a genius idea and watched my daughter transform in front of the bathroom mirror, testing various makeup shades and application techniques.

A week later, my favorite eye shadow was not in its drawer. Or any other drawer. Or purse. Or anywhere else I looked.

Twitching, I stepped into the hallway, walking in a trance towards my oldest daughter's room. I began to rant, fume, gesture and even utter strange noises.

I had officially come undone.

Even in this altered state, I remained lucid enough to notice my children's wide eyes peeking out from their bedroom doors. I was suddenly 12 years old again, watching my own dad's unhinging. Feeling utterly sheepish, I had two startling realizations.

One, I finally understood my dad's nail clipper episode.

Two, I knew exactly what my children were thinking.

No comments:

Post a Comment