It is long past January where Great Grammy reminds us, "When the days get longer the cold gets stronger", the cold just keeps holding on and on and on. It is holding us inside, when we are usually out, it is holding sap in the maple trees and refusing to let go and it feels like it is holding this family in an endless pattern of eternal waiting for spring, for change, for something to give in the attitude of one child in particular of the three. . .
It all started again with a favorite hat, the one he couldn't find this morning, when it was time to leave. I went back in the house to give a second look around, but that doesn't matter to him, as he screams, "I need my hat! You don't understand! You don't even care!" on repeat for the entire 20 minute ride, through morning hell. I stopped the car, opened the door, hopped out and walked to the back of the car. I opened the hatch careful to push it up, so I don't wap my head when the frozen pistons leave it sagging right at forehead level, and looked in the back pack, the one he already looked in. This has happened before. Though I try to look carefully, his hollering continues as I move things and check each pocket, I see nothing of the hat.
I climb back in knowing, this resolved nothing, now he will yell, "Turn around, go back home!!!" on repeat for the eternity of a ride, intermittently with "You don't care!! I hate you!! I need my hat!!" I don't have time to go back, I have three kids and myself to drop of at different locations over the next 45 minute ride through neighboring towns, over winding roads, rumbling bridges, and highly synchronized morning traffic. I know if I can just wait him out, keep my mouth shut and drive, he will cool down. At the first stop the other two both come in with me, he sends us off with a holler, but is quieter when I return with the oldest. One down, I can't hold my tongue as tight as I like this morning, and there is no reasoning with this kid when he is cranked. He sees no overreaction here, it's "MY HAT!!" I drive on following traffic, signs and a usual path. Drop off my oldest, he gives me the "I love you" sign with his hand, he knows this is hard on me, and everyone, he is being sweet, I return the sign, toot the horn, put the car into gear, and direct the cherokee toward the next school.
With the others gone, I am firm, this reaction was too big. The placing of blame, unacceptable. "I'm sorry but. . ." he says, and I retort, "I'm sorry but (insert excuse) doesn't cut it. . ." He seems to understand, but how can I know? Despite this serious conversation, when the Jeep bumps down the hole pocked driveway to the school, he is calmer, as I predicted, after the long ride walks to the hatch like I did and pulls out his backpack, waves to me like always, and goes into school. I am not worried there will be trouble at school. He's the helpful one at school, everyone knows him, calls his name, he works hard and doesn't complain.
When I pick up the kids this afternoon, things are low key. Till I mention needing help emptying the dishwasher, and he asks if I looked for the hat. . . "No. I haven't had time to look for the hat." Everyone piles through the door backpacks, boots, coats piling over each other as only three kids can. He goes into his backpack for his homework. . . and pulls out a bag. . . in the bag. . is the Hat! "I found my hat! I can't believe you didn't find it! It's all your fault that this morning was bad!!"
I am still waiting for spring. . .for change. . .for something to give, in the attitude of one child in particular of the three. . .