Monday, May 27, 2013

Blue Nail Polish

There's blue nail polish on the bathroom counter top. I think I could maybe get it off if I bought some nail polish remover, but I feel like it needs to stay there for a while.

When Toby was three (fucking three--it's a baby), he got blue nail polish all over the carpet in the basement bedroom of the house we were renting. I, of course, rushed in there, yelled at him, and violently threw him to the side when I realized what he was doing.

I could say a lot of things...  as soon as I get the house under control, as soon as I remember to cook on a consistent basis, as soon as I pull back on working from home, as soon as they get a little older, but none of these things are the real issue. They can be triggers to rage, but they aren't the things that need to be changed.

When I started getting along with my husband, it wasn't because we suddenly managed to manage our money better or because he learned to close the bread bag or because I started paying better attention to his laundry or any of the other ridiculously trivial things that used to trigger fights (not to say that we don't fight anymore, but we do so with increasingly less frequency and intensity). We started to get along because to put it bluntly, I decided to stop being such a fucking bitch, and as soon as I did that, things got better.

This time, when my now eight year old got nail polish all over the bathroom, I didn't get mad. He was being ever so careful with toilet paper, and I told him not to worry that it was an accident and accidents happen. But I still get mad. I still stomp and yell and throw things  I just didn't this time over the nail polish.

Eventually, we left the house where my little son defiled the carpet. It wasn't the only damage that was done so they kept our deposit and sent us a bill. Now, there may or may not be a roll of old carpet with blue nail polish on it in a landfill somewhere, and there may or may not be stained carpet in the basement of a house I will never walk into again. It doesn't matter.

The only thing I have left from that day is my son--the eight year old version of the three year old I can see in my mind's eye crouching on the floor, painting the carpet.  And that's my responsibility, not the fucking carpet, not any of the other trivial things that have flown me into a rage. My responsibility is my son.

And this is not the sentiment I want to leave him with...

"All I ever learned from love was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you." --Leonard Cohen

So, for now, I'll leave the blue nail in the bathroom while I think about it.

1 comment:

  1. Memory from teenagerhood: I spilled bright nail polish on the carpet of the house my parents still own and when she could tell my mother was going to flip, my girlfriend told her she did it. And stood by while my mother ironed the nail polish into a towel and garumphed but couldn't rage the way she wanted to. It was a nice lie she did for me.

    Have you, by the way, read Ghost in the House: Motherhood, Raising Children, and Struggling with Depression? I don't know if you go in for those sorts of things, but it explained a lot about my mother, and it's helping me curb my own frightful tendencies. (OK, that and the meds.)