Buffering An Argument

“Wow, mom, you’re too sensitive.”

GD tells me this, A LOT. And I nearly always get irritated. Why?

Because he’s right.

The older I get, the more I think my sense of humor, equilibrium, fairness, empathy, or whatever you want to label it, is fading. I’m afraid I’m going to end up being one of those crotchety old women who never smiles or laughs and who will end up having grand canyon-sized grooves on either side of her mouth muttering under her breath in a sort of trance-like mantra, “I do NOT approve.”


I have fallen into a pattern lately of dissecting everything everyone says to me with surgical precision – I mull it over, I turn it around in my mind and examine it from all angles, I look for hidden meaning and usually end up making an inaccurate assumption. This incorrect assumption is usually closely followed by the unfortunate opening of my pie hole and spewing forth hot, sticky nonsense.

I really must condition myself to keep my pie hole shut more often. Sometimes, it just pays to listen and keep my comments to myself.

I had a rather … awkward start to my day yesterday. My mom met me and the boys at Red Robin for lunch. (Note to self: do not eat lunch at Red Robin anymore. Even though mom graciously paid for our lunch, I know the total came to about $45 BEFORE tip – that’s an asinine amount of money to spend on lunch).

I thought she might like to tag along while the boys and I went back-to-school shopping.

Now I will admit, I had an ulterior motive. Back-to-school shopping is NOT something my boys EVER look forward to. Ever. They both abhor school – LOATHE it with an alarming passion. This dislike is partly my fault – I pushed them too hard. I expected too much from them at too early of an age. Some of this dislike is due to the fact that they have to use their brains. Some of the dislike stems from the fact that they have to get up and follow a schedule or adhere to someone else’s instructions and rules – they don’t like being told what to do and when to do it.

What can I say – they are MY sons.

So, to act as a buffer for this very unpleasant outing, I’ve asked my mom to accompany us for the past two years. Last year, we had a great time. My mom is a natural jokester and the kids adore her – how can you get mad, or argue with grandma? If I ask the boys to try on shoes, it’s a BATTLE of wits – if grandma asks them to try on shoes, it’s charming and cute.

I can’t wait to be a grandma. (Wait, yes I can. NO HURRY boys).

Our conversation started out innocently enough. We caught up on some news, coaxed the boys to come out of their self-imposed shells a bit more and talk about what was on their minds and then I HAD to go and bring up a sensitive family issue.

And because of the nature of this sensitive issue, I can’t, and won’t talk about it, But suffice it to say, my mom and I? Don’t exactly see eye-to-eye about this family issue.

I brought it up for two reasons:

1. I wanted to know what mom’s opinion was about it. (We agreed, for the most part. But the part we didn’t agree on? Was a WHOPPER).

2. I wanted to talk about it in front of the boys because I thought it would be good for them to hear what was going on – this issue COULD be a future issue for us at some point.

I’m sorry to be so vague, but you know how it is – sharing sensitive issues with the rest of the Internet. You’ll just have to bear with me. (Or not, it’s your dime. *grin*)

We proceeded to argue about this issue. We disagreed. Our opinions were more strongly expressed. Our voices began to rise. And before I could blink an eye – something in my past was brought up, something I hadn’t exactly told my boys about, and before I knew it, the issue we were discussing? Morphed into something else entirely.

I regret now that this argument was witnessed by the boys. They were uncomfortable to say the least. But in a lot of ways, I was glad they were there. They were MY buffer against my temper and impulsive, hot-headed, out-of-control pie hole problem. I could have said so much more. I wanted to say so much more – but I didn’t. Instead, I skirted around this issue, I danced around my rolling emotions and fought to bring the emotional sea we had stirred up back under control.

It’s disconcerting when you think a past issue is water under the bridge only to discover that it’s somehow not. All I can say is that this issue? Was life changing for me. It taught me to grow up. It taught me to be self-sufficient and the decision that was made? Was completely justified. I am honestly not bitter about it. I have gotten over it. I view the incident as a necessary component of who I am today.

The latter part of our lunch was … strained. The boys weren’t really sure what to do with themselves, but to give them credit, they really handled the awkwardness well. Though I did not have fun butting heads with my mom, I’m sort of glad it happened.

You know how the experts say that it’s sometimes good for kids to see their parents argue, and then make up? That it’s important to teach them that love is not always sweet-smelling flowers and rainbows? Well, I think that’s equally important when it comes to family in general. After lunch, we trudged forward. Though we didn’t exactly laugh it off, we acknowledged our reactions and we moved on.

The boys sighed with relief.

To be completely fair to my mom, she had been up since 2:30 that morning. My mom routinely works the early morning shift and had just finished working a 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. shift. To say she was loopy with fatigue would be understating the obvious – she was DEAD tired.

But, she wanted to spend time with us so she went shopping with us. I know part of the disagreement stemmed from the fact that she was tired – everything always appears so much worse when we’re tired. And when we learned that she had been up for so long, that somehow helped to justify what happened – if that makes any sense.

But my mom is nothing if not resilient. She bounced right back and she soon had us clutching our ribs in laughter. My mom is the biggest, most loveable goofball you will ever have the pleasure of meeting – trust me.

We continued on our shopping agenda. We stopped at Shoe Carnival to buy the boys new sneakers. GD and I had quite a battle – not over the kind of sneakers or the color of the sneakers but over whether we needed to buy a size 11 (which was snug and left no room for growth) or an 11 ½ (which did).

*sigh* A twenty-minute smack down over half an inch. Seriously, WHY does everything have to be a battle?

My mom walked away from our bickering.

I didn’t blame her.

In the end, I convinced GD that he wasn’t done growing yet (much to his horror because he doesn’t understand that tall men with big feet run in our family). And that I wasn’t about to spend $70 bucks on sneakers that he would only get to wear for six months before I was forced to buy him another pair.

I swear, everything has to be an issue with GD.

I can’t IMAGINE where he gets that trait from.


MK, on the other hand, quickly found what he wanted, was perfectly fine with the size that he needed and was sitting on the sidelines staring off into space waiting for our battle of the wits to come to an end.

After the shoe fiasco, our day HAD to go nowhere but up. And it did. We went to Bed, Bath and Beyond so I could buy a Yankee candle (LOVE those candles) and my mom could buy a blender with a gift certificate that she had. Only she had changed purses and she didn’t have it with her so I ended up buying her a little cow keychain that mooed when you squeezed its udder and emitted light from its nostrils.

Why did I end up buying her a cow that mooed? Because she thought it was cute and I felt bad for yelling at her and bad that she didn’t get to buy herself a blender.

I’m a good daughter – so I’ve heard. *grin*

I soon regretted buying her that cow. Because for the rest of the day and all through Sears, JCPenneys, Michaels (a craft store) and Wal-Mart, she would periodically press on that cow and make it moo so that people would look around with puzzled expressions to try and figure out where that strange sound was coming from.

We tried to speed-walk away form her on several occasions, but she would always catch up to us and start the whole thing over again.

She absolutely horrified the boys (in between bouts of sputtered chuckles) and embarrassed me (in between loud guffaws), but we haven’t laughed so hard in ages. Seriously, my ribs still hurt. My mom is a zany woman who refuses to grow up and we adore her.

Thanks for being my buffer mom; I love you.