I hate yelling at my middle daughter. I absolutely loathe it, as a matter of fact.
The other day I talked about how she was starting to show massive signs of her mother coming through her personality – and not in the best way. Last night clinched it.
Andrea, you have to understand (if you’ve never read my blog), passed away two years ago, on our eighteenth wedding anniversary. She went in on a Tuesday with a cough and passed away in the hospital on Saturday. My daughter, Hannah, was joined to Andrea at the hip, and they were inseparable. For that reason, I worried about my relationship with my middle daughter after Andrea died.
But back to the similarities: Andrea, when we were first married and first had children in particular, had a habit of picking the absolute perfect moments (for her) of hitting every horrible emotional button of mine. She would start an argument (or I would, it takes two, I know!) and get my slow build going. Then she’d needle the little things that bothered me. None of them had anything to do with the argument at hand, they’d just come out anyway. Then she’d tell me to lower my voice, the kids might hear, and when the little ones would round the corner throw an emotional grenade at me so I would just blow. Right when the kids were there.
She always apologized, but for years I looked like the angry guy who yelled and hollered and she was calm and cold.
Bear in mind, there was never anything evil, violent, or worse that came. Just anger. Pure, unadulterated anger that she could fuel like Ronsonol on a fire. When I told a doctor about this after Andrea passed away, that I worried Hannah would only remember those things, the doctor told me it was best she knew that we were communicating. “You never got violent, nor did Andrea. You never threatened to leave. At the end of the night, you were in the same bed together and up the next morning. She saw you were talking, though loudly, and at least you were communicating.”
Hannah has learned those very buttons to push, though. In the worst way.
Where I had an equal relationship with my wife, Hannah has the feeling she’s in that position now that she’s tall, hormonal, and graduating middle school.
Last night the boys came and informed me that payment for their school pictures was due tomorrow. This, I knew, but I appreciated the reminder.
Then came Hannah, hormonal, angry, and threw out that hers were due today, “Daaaad!” and proceeded to inform me that her teacher informed everyone of this, that I was late . . . and wouldn’t stop. Just informing me wasn’t enough, there was an accusation of impropriety. That’s where I threw her the Dad glare.
“You know, Hannah, it’s nonsense that your pictures are due a day before your brothers’ pictures.”
“So what, Dad?!”
“Okay . . . let me put it to you this way, then. You want me to remember this and do what you want, when Abbi and I have done the dishes for the last week. When you did your chores day before yesterday you didn’t finish. Dishes were everywhere. I can’t get any more garbage in the garbage can.”
She started to give me more attitude in the least pleasant of voices.
“For the last time, Hannah . . . I have no money. None. I get paid tomorrow! I have a car that has 12 miles left of gas. 12. That’s it. I had to plan it out just this much due to your sister’s college deposit, your tuition, all that!”
“In addition, HANNAH! I have THIS much work to do (picture me with my arms wide, like I want a hug) and THIS much time to do it all in! (picture me with my hands next to each other.) Then, when I have to do YOUR chores on top of cooking meals, making your lunches – which I do every…single…day…and then cook dinner, laundry, vacuum, dust, all of that . . . I have THIS much to do and THIS much time to do it in. Did I mention that I worked 10 hours yesterday and did THIS much work after it too?!”
Hannah’s eyes got glassy, but she was angry. I saw it in her face.
“So when I miss some little deadline . . . like a freaking packet of pictures that I know damn well they’ll just make me buy the whole packet next week anyway . . . and your brothers’ pictures aren’t due until tomorrow . . . you might want to cut me just a little slack. You see when I come home I do more work. You come home, slog into your bedroom, that is so full of crap snakes could be living on the floor you wouldn’t know because of the layers of garbage all over the FLOOR!”
It’s hear the anger left her face.
“So when I missed one little deadline, or wait until the last minute to fill out a field trip form . . . maybe you might consider cutting me just a little freaking slack?!”
Hannah went up to the same said bedroom and shut her door. Her sister, Abbi, looked at me and though grinning, I could tell she thought I’d gotten a bit too angry.
“No . . . I just don’t know how she got it in her head she could act that way.”
“You know that if it had been your grandma none of this would even happen. She’d have beaten us then made us do it anyway.”
“Oh . . . yeah. But you’d have deserved it.”
I sighed. I hate getting angry. It really, honestly, doesn’t happen often. In fact, it’s very rare. But . . . Hannah is learning the wrong things to do: the button pushing and the manipulation to try and get what she thinks is most important at the moment. School pictures or food? Those were the choices I gave her.
Still, I felt bad about how angry I got.
I got up from the couch, moved to head up the stairs to have a calm discussion with her.
But then I looked and realized it . . . she’d managed to disappear without doing the dishes yet again. Some things never change.