My mother generally took the high road in all things including parenting. At least she did as often as possible. She was so careful not to yell at us that I think the onus of punishment fell squarely on the shoulders of my father. He had no qualms about yelling, insulting and humiliating us. Maybe he used up all the available wrathful energy, who knows?
Because she was careful, I can remember distinctly the few times she did yell at me. There was that time when I sat in front of the patio door, absent mindedly poking holes in the screen with a pencil. I must have been very bored. I enjoyed it. It was soothing, kind of like popping bubble wrap bubbles, you know? I was jerked out of my meditational revery when my mother snapped, "Oh great. Now the really BIG bugs can get in!" I was so startled by her sarcastic outburst I stopped immediately. Remembering that incident makes me laugh.
Another time she yelled at me was in the midst of a terribly hot Kansas City summer before our house was air conditioned. We had a big box shaped fan into which we poured ice and water. The air that blew through the ice was slightly cool. I'm sure you can imagine the familial warfare over whose turn it was to sit in front of it. When my mother was pregnant with my brother Josh, she actually asserted her rights more often than at other times. She hardly ever put herself first. It was a good thing, I think.
Anyway, The Incident I'm remembering was during a super hot summer, on a weekend so we were all at home, packed like sardines into our 1,100 s.f. house - both parents and four kids, jammed into that tiny space. (And I wonder why life was so tense? Good lord.)
I was complaining, loudly. I was whining. I was whinging and apparently I went on and on about how hot it was. Finally my mother, the absolute paragon of emotional control, yelled, "THANK YOU BECKY! If not for YOU, how would we KNOW??" It was very uncharacteristic of her. The shock shut me up immediately.
She was hot, too, apparently. Anyway I'm thinking about her because it's too damn hot in DC. The weather people tell us we're in for at least a couple of weeks of non-stop miserable heat. No rain in the forecast.
Remembering that day, I think I'll keep my opinions about the heat to myself. A good idea, yes? I say yes.