Somehow, apparently during one of my weaker moments, Garrett talked me into getting a battery operated, noise making, plastic gun. At $2.00, it was to be a treat following a good morning. We had been through this before, buying potential "weapons" (guns, golf clubs, etc.), always with bad consequences, but I hoped that he (and I) had learned from our past experiences. I would have preferred to get two guns, so that there'd be one for both grandsons (who fight incessantly over everything), or four so that each of them and two neighbor kids could have one, but there was only the one.
Of course, the rule was that it would not be used in the house to drive Mawmaw crazy, and no fighting over it. And, if Conner, the 3yr old, was here, the gun had to be put away to prevent the sure to follow fight and someone getting hurt. (Ok, don't laugh so loud. It's rude and insensitive. One can always at least try to make rules, no matter how ludicrous.)
We had several slight disagreements over the gun that afternoon and evening (he spends the night here by himself on Friday nights). He wanted to take the gun home with him the next day, even though we have a firm and fast rule that the toys I buy for here stay here. (Again, please keep the laughter under control. If I let him take them all home, I'd have to keep buying toys to entertain them). Also, he and his brother were going to spend Saturday night with their two cousins, so what he really wanted to do was take the gun there and have bragging rights. I asked him if he seriously thought I would let him take a gun, albeit a fake plastic one, into a home with three other boys. Four boys and one gun, seriously?
Saturday morning started out so well. We slept late, had a good breakfast early on so he didn't have a meltdown, etc. I wasn't feeling well (I'm having trouble with my thyroiditis again), so I said I would be glad to go outside with him, but that I just flat out didn't have the energy to run around with him. He wanted to play guns, him with the plastic noise making one and me with a plain old water gun. I said that was fine, but there would be no me running around, and I had to get dressed first.
At which point he started shooting me with the battery operated, noise making, plastic gun. That sounded like a high-pitched jack hammer. A real one. Did I mention that I already also had a headache, and my bad neck was hurting, and I was feeling really really grouchy?
I asked and then warned him to stop. He didn't. I grabbed for the gun and said that I was putting it up until we were outside. He said no I wasn't. I grabbed for the gun again and told him that if he didn't give it to me I was going to put it in the plastic recycleables. He said no I wasn't. He continued to shoot me with the battery operated, noise making, plastic gun that sounded like a jack hammer. (Let me interject here and tell you that this was not just a typical little boy having fun thing going on. This was a little boy purposely defying and being rude to an adult). I grabbed for it again, and he jumped onto and over the bed. I jumped onto and over the bed as well, and grabbed for and reached the gun.
I stomped to the kitchen, Garrett in hot pursuit, thinking that I was going to put the gun in the recyleables and he'd retrieve it, or that I would put it on top of the refrigerator and give it back to him later.
You should have seen his face when I took the hammer out of the drawer, put the gun on the floor, and smashed it.
He knelt on the floor, sobbing and begging me to stop, gathered the pieces and said something like "ha ha, look at this, there are enough pieces to glue back together, and the battery part is still intact!" I mean, really, you've seen that face before, right? At which point I said something like "Really? Let me see?", and took out the hammer and smashed it again.
Ok, no stone throwing, please. I can hear you thinking "so...who's throwing the tantrum here? ", and "you should have tried this or that instead of resorting to violence".
I should have felt ashamed at that moment, but instead I walked to the back of the house (shaking a little bit) and proceded to get dressed, leaving my husband to pick up the pieces of both the gun and the sobbing boy with the demented Mawmaw.
(You may also be asking, and rightly so, where Pawpaw was during this confrontation. The answer would be ... sitting in the living room, reading the paper, listening to it all and calmly saying things like "come on, Garrett, don't make Mawmaw mad, you know how she gets", and "Garrett, give Mawmaw the gun so she'll quit yelling". Call me crazy, but don't you think he could have just reached out and grabbed the gun himself?)
As always happens in the aftermath of these confrontations with this high strung but sharp as a tack and precious boy (aka Drama King), I did eventually begin to feel ashamed of myself for throwing such a tantrum ... what kind of example of self control, or lack of, was that for a child? Is this really that different than the lady who kicked her kids out of the car for fighting and then driving off without them? Would he forever be plagued by nightmares of me standing above him with a hammer in my hand?
Garrett and Pawpaw left shortly after this, but, before leaving, Garrett hugged me and said that he loved me, and I told him the same. Then later that evening I went to his house for a party, and he ran out to greet me with hugs and laughter and a request to play badmitten with him, just as if nothing had ever happened. And hugged me goodbye that night and said he loved me.
Can you say "whew!" The worse case scenerio in my head is always that he'll hate me or never want to willingly hang out with me again. But I think this little boy, who I love so much it hurts, and who is a huge part of my life, may also have been a little ashamed of himself, knew that he had screwed up and had pushed me too far. And perhaps his worse case scenerio in his head is that I'll hate him and never want to be with him again?
Maybe, in the end, it's these little skirmishes that teach us, both child and adult, what our own limits are, and how far we can push our loved ones without doing irreparble damage to the relationship? We're learning this as we go along, Garrett and I. I've never been a grandmother before, and he's never before been a kid. We spend a lot of time together, he and I. More than the usual grandparent who sees their grandkids once a month, so the dynamics are a little different. I'm not what I call a fairy grandparent who sweeps in with the special trips and treats, who doesn't deal with the day to day. Not a parent, but still an important and pivotal relationship that frequently encounters the best and worst in each of us.
The thing is, you can have already raised a child to adulthood, and read all the books along the way, and then go into another person's childhood where all the rules have changed and there's a brand new set of books and experts on the subject of interacting with a child, of how to handle their tantrums and acting out. But until that one particular moment comes where all books and rules go out the window, you just don't know how you will react in that particular situation. And it's not always pretty. So, yes, I've had my share of demented moments, and I'm sure there will be more to come. But they're preceded and followed by love. Hopefully that will soften the impact for both of us.
(Having re-read this post, I'm thinking I need to clarify that no actual physical violence has ever occurred here beyond a butt swat or arm grab. Certainly the hammer was never used on or aimed at this child or any other! If you read my post titled Fate or Destiny, you know that there's a history of domestic violence in my biological mother's life by her father, but I was never a part of that. I have, however, always worried that the gene would be in me, but, beyond a quick but short-lived temper, I have never demonstrated or felt violent urges.)