Oh, man, did I mess up. Is it because I’ve been sick? Is it because I skipped yoga? Is it because I haven’t been meditating? Any snippet of goodwill I dribbled into the cosmos with my bumbling attempt at free-flowing compassion a few weeks ago was consumed by irrational, misguided, raw RAGE yesterday. In a previous post, I said I don’t get jealous very often. Well, now I’m gonna claim that I don’t get angry. I also floss every day, change the filter on the vacuum, and trim my kids’ fingernails regularly.
Bullshit, all of it.
Because yesterday I found myself using a PRIUS to chase down a pack of teenage boys on foot in a suburban neighborhood where people are walking their dogs and watering their lawns. (Apparently, you can get really good gas mileage while tormenting other people’s children). I forced them INTO my car (does this qualify as kidnapping?), brought them TO MY HOUSE, and all-round SCARED THEM SO BADLY that they were almost crying by the time they escaped my clutches.
What did they do to deserve this?
Is this just a California thing? And, more importantly, who AM I? What have I become?
The first time an orange hit our home yesterday afternoon with a vibrating THUD (this says more about the structural integrity of our 1950’s ranch than the thrower’s strength) the kids and I skipped outside and saw a bunch of teenage boys running away. An orange was laying on the ground next to the side of the house and I laughed it off as teenage-goofiness. Taj and Luke wanted to chase the boys with their scooters, so I let them ride around the block, they came home and reported the boys were throwing oranges at other houses, and we all went back inside for a little Super Why. I thought that was the end of it.
Until the second orange hit the house, hard, on a window this time. There was juice running down the glass and a sad, smashed orange in our flower box. Half-a-dozen more oranges were scattered around the courtyard.
Well, for some reason, I totally Lost My Shit. I told the kids to stay in the house, changed from my pajama pants into jeans (because I still have dignity), grabbed my purse-with-keys-in-it, and jumped in the car, silently thanking Toyota engineers for the coolness that is Not Having To Put The Key In The Ignition. It has never come in so handy as it did in that moment.
I tore out of our driveway, flew down the street going zero to…I don’t know… 25? in… 14 seconds? The pack split into two groups at the end of the block, so I whipped to the right, following the morons that were heading for a cul-de-sac. I blasted the horn the whole time which, somehow, embarrassed one of them into stopping. He pleaded with his buddy to stop with him. I got out of the car and yelled the thing (I think) I was most angry about:
“I AM A THIRTY-TWO-YEAR-OLD WOMAN WITH THREE KIDS AND A SINUS INFECTION!!!!”
This didn’t have the effect I hoped it would. They looked, frankly, a little underwhelmed.
So I took it in a different direction and started spewing out all kinds of expletives. I don’t even remember what I was saying but it didn’t make anymore sense than my previous statement and it contained multiple takes on the word “shit.”
They really began to get scared when I told them to get in the car. I don’t watch many scary movies, but the looks on their faces reminded me of what victims in scary movies might look like right before they get axed. There was pleading and begging. For some crazy reason, the teenage boys didn’t want to get in the psycho-lady’s Prius!
They said they’d walk to my house and meet me there and I said, yeah, right.
“I just left 3 small children at home alone because of you [like I had no choice and this was the rational thing to do] and you’re getting in this car to clean up all the shit you threw at my house.”
So, they got in. I felt like I had to be polite and make small talk on the drive around the block, so I asked them what high school they went to. When they said “Paly” (Palo Alto High) I sneered like I wasn’t surprised, given that they were privileged, spoiled teenagers playing stupid pranks. Like this wasn’t the very same school my sons will go to in eight years.
When we got home, I handed one of them some paper towels and a bottle of Eco Window Spray (and let’s be honest here: this natural stuff leaves streaks. I’m going back to Windex.) and told the other to pick up the oranges. I told them to apologize to my boys, who look up to guys like them. But it was when I asked them to write down their names and parents’ numbers on a piece of paper that I noticed how badly both of them were shaking. I had to stop myself from laughing at how ridiculous I was being.
I mean, really. What I wish I would have done is pulled out some cold lemonade (we don’t normally have lemonade but that’s what I picture us drinking), sat them down at the patio table, and told them about the time when I was in high school and a friend and I went driving around country roads, got drunk, drove the car into a ditch, were too drunk and scared to get help, slept in the car, and walked the next morning to the nearest farmhouse looking like two teenagers who were hungover and had slept in a car all night. That’s when I remembered how I gave the farmer a fake name and number, because he wanted to call my parents. So, instead of relaxing and forgiving and letting them know we all make stupid mistakes, I said, “and don’t go giving fake numbers, either.”
Which is exactly what they they did, because when they left, I called the numbers (so I could let the parents know why their near-grown sons may have spoiled themselves) and got, I’m sorry. You’ve dialed a number that’s been disconnected and is no longer in service.
But I deserved it. I realized this after I called a friend who’s trained in social work, and told her what happened, shaking with adrenaline. (I have a lots friends who are social workers; I used to think it was because I’m attracted to kind people, but I’m starting to think it’s really because I want free therapy.)
I had just been at her house earlier in the day, in tears over typical life-stress, and she said on the phone, “Wow, all that frustration you have just came flying out and landed on those guys, huh?”
And, after I hung up and turned around, Luke and Taj were looking at me with big eyes. They had overheard me telling her the play-by-play of what went down and said, “Mom, we think you were too mean to those boys. You tell us not to yell or call names, even when we’re angry.”
Ahhh, shit. Once again, my children called it. I wasn’t mad about orange juice on my window. I was (and still am) mad about lots of other things. Things from the past and things in the present and imaginary things that will happen in the future. It doesn’t come out often, but fuck. When it does, I’m a raging lunatic. I scare my kids, I scare other people’s teenage kids, and I scare myself.
I’m working on it. And I’m hope, Hope, HOPING, that those boys don’t come back with eggs.