The Earrings

There has been a rash of jewelry related activities going on in my house lately. Unfortunately, none of them are particularly good. This is just one of them:

Last Friday, Doodicus was invited to a classmate’s birthday swim party at the Y. As soon as we got home that day, I had him quickly change out of his school clothes in the laundry room. I unexpectedly walked in on him while he was reaching into the pocket of his pants that he had just taken off. Since he’d been sneaking toys and such to school, I figured he was trying to retrieve whatever it was in secret before they got washed. Upon seeing me, he threw down the pants. “What’s in the pocket?” I asked. “Nothing!” he responded guiltily.

I reached into the pocket and pulled out an earring with a bent post. It was very similar to the one I had found in his backpack a couple weeks earlier, which he said he had found on the playground: gold with a single rhinestone. I reached back into the pocket and found another earring, this one with the back still on it. Warning bells suddenly went off in my head.

Upon closer inspection, I realized that the earrings looked very familiar, and they weren’t rhinestones. Doodicus was staring at me in fear. I walked quickly to the master bath and saw that the diamond stud earrings Sparring Partner gave me for Christmas shortly after we were married were gone from the ring-holder where I usually kept them. My hands clenched in fury and the posts of the earrings dug into my palm.

I turned to see Doodicus had followed me. Normally when I’m mad, I yell. I’m not proud of it and I try to do better, but yes, I yell.

Not this time. I was so angry, I growled at him, “What are you doing with my earrings?”

“I found them on the floor in the laundry room this morning and I didn’t know what to do!” He was nearly in tears.

I tried to remember if I had worn them recently. Had I put them in MY pocket and forgotten to put them away? Could he have found them as he said? It didn’t really matter.

“What do you mean, you didn’t know what to do with them? Have we had company lately that they could have been Grandma’s?! Are they Aitch’s?!” I ground out each question between clenched teeth and to each he answered with a small no.

And then I glared at him, seething, boiling over.

“Go ahead and take off your swimsuit. You’re not going to the birthday party.”

“What?! That’s not fair!” and on and on with more tears. More “I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with them!” excuses. Finally, he shot out, “You’re the meanest Mom!”

In my head I was no longer looking at my eight year old son. I was looking at some stranger who was only trying to protect his ass, like the kids I had to deal with when I caught shoplifting when I worked at Claire’s. In one of my least “motherly” moments I’ve had in a long time, I responded to his last accusation, again in a low, angry growl:

“You’re damn lucky you didn’t lose either diamond. You think I’m mean to YOU because I won’t let you go to the birthday party? I’m not being mean. I’m punishing you because YOU were mean to me and took something that is very special to me and lied about it,” and I turned my back on him and walked away.

He ran to his room in tears leaving his Asshole Mom to tend happily (or so it appeared) with his little sister’s demand for a snack. A few minutes later he came out of his room, quiet, subdued. I was cleaning up in the kitchen and I offered a couple suggestions for supper. He calmly answered. It was if the mini-implosion had never happened. Aitch joined him at the table and they started to color. After a few minutes, Doodicus got up and on his way back into the living room and said, “You can look under that paper, if you want to.”

I didn’t want to, but I walked over anyway. I picked up the paper, half expecting that he had written “You suck!” on the table in permanent marker, but there was nothing. I then noticed that something was written on the back side of the paper. It said, “You’re the worst mom. I’m the dummest [sic].”

I felt as small as an ant’s nutsack. I kid you not.

And then we calmly talked. In the end, I asked him if he learned anything from what had happened. Yes, he said. I told him that I did too. “If we didn’t make mistakes, we would never get smarter. You didn’t make the best decision, but I would never, EVER call you dumb, so please don’t think you are. Dumb is not learning from mistakes, and we ALL make them, every day.”

I honestly expected him to resent me for the rest of the night, even the entire weekend, for not letting him go to the birthday party. But he didn’t for which I’m so thankful. Even as angry as I was about what he had done, I had a helluva time taking that privilege away. I really hope he learned something from it. I hope we both did.