The Last Word
There have always been things about my kids – things every parent experiences, I know – that confound me. I know I likely did them. I know my parents probably did them, too. Doesn’t stop them from being frustrating nonetheless.
You know of which I speak.
I can be in the bathroom for anything from the call of nature to showering…and my children will wait until the most inopportune moment to want to have a conversation. This being moments after they wanted nothing to do with me, by the way.
If I need to ask my daughter something – and she’s 15, by the way – and need to go through the closed door to do it I have to knock. I do that, by the way. When she had a major cut on her leg and wanted me to look at it she wouldn’t just show me she had to shut the door for 10 minutes while she changed into shorts because – God forbid – I see any part of her that I likely cleaned, bathed and wiped in some form when she was an infant. For her, however…if she wants to have a conversation she just barrels into my room. I could be in my underwear changing clothes and she has no shame standing there while I’m naked – literally – to the world and acts as if it’s no big deal.
“Stop that,” I can say when my son is having a moment of stubbornness and shouting at his brother. This is usually followed by just one more attempt at said argument. “Did I not say stop?”
“No, you didn’t, you did it one more time. Why did you do it one more time? You know that by the time it gets to me losing my cool there isn’t room for one more attempt, right?!”
Silence usually follows.
This can be the said argument, bouncing a ball in the house, turning up the volume on his handheld video game system or just being flat out obnoxious. They always have to try for just…one…more…attempt. It never works, always makes me angrier and always results in punishment of some type.
The last two days this has happened regarding a toothbrush.
That’s right. Not a video game, not a sweater or a puzzle or a book . . . a toothbrush.
“She’s using my toothbrush!”
“So put it someplace else.”
“But she finds it!”
“So get another one.”
“I want that one!”
Yes…it’s an item that will, inevitably, run its course and be thrown away. Yet you’d think it’s that little gold idol Indiana Jones grabs at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark the way they’re acting.
This morning it came to “NOW MY TOOTHBRUSH IS JUST GONE!”
I have spares. Don’t ask me why, I just do. I took it out of the package, threw it to him, and said – in full volume – “there, problem solved. I don’t want to hear any more about it.”
This all happened when I was in my underwear having just gotten out of the shower, by the way. It was followed by ten full minutes of arguments about a toothbrush with his sister.
“It’s not yours!”
“Yes it is!”
“Mine said ‘Gentle Dental’ on it!”
“THEY ALL SAY GENTLE DENTAL ON THEM!”
“Why are you using my toothbrush!”
“I’m not, you were using mine!”
You get the picture.
“I gave you a new toothbrush the problem is solved. KNOCK IT OFF!”
This, by the way, was at 6:45 in the morning. It was followed by
“No buts, it’s over. I’ve ended this argument!”
Five minutes later . . .
“I mean, come on, look it’s wet, it’s my toothbrush.”
Which was followed, of course, by my own teenage eye roll and
“Oh, for the love of God…are you really going down this rabbit hole again? I ended this argument…he has a new toothbrush. Enough already!!!”
I get the psychology some would say: there’s four of you in the house, five in total minus the college kid. So they have to vie for position to be heard. Heard is one thing.
They’re vying for the last word.
At the end of the day, like a scene out of Austin Powers, I hold up my hand, tell them to zip it and inform them, sounding so much like my mother and father it’s driving me crazy:
“Mine is the last word on this, so enough already!”
Which is usually followed by five more minutes of trying, desperately, just to get in one more.
I’d go change into comfortable clothes…but then I’ll just be naked and hearing the argument, which is even more awkward than fighting over toothbrushes.