I have a parenting theory that kids sometimes really do need to see your anger in order to fully GET IT.
It's not cool among parents of my generation to ever lose your cool around your kids, no matter what extraordinarily chowderheaded things they get up to. And if you do happen to become possessed by a malevolent spirit and actually YELL at your beloved babies, you are required to feel guilty. You must repent. The peer pressure enforced rules are clear: No yelling. No threatening. No anger. It destroys their souls. You are a MONSTER.
But when my kids do something dangerous or incredibly foolish or just down-right malicious (in other words, every ten minutes or so), I feel justified in making my anger known to them. I know that I'm treading into dangerous territory here when I admit that I am growing increasingly shameless (no shame! *black power fist*) about my avenging angel routine. I mean, it's not like I hit them with wooden spoons. Who would do that? (I'm looking at you, Baby Boomers.)
But they do NOT get subtle hints, that I know for sure. I have solid and endless personal evidence that subtle hints and polite suggestions go right over their heads and out into the atmosphere. And gentle rebukes fair even worse. At not quite four and six years of age, they actually scoff - to my face - at kindly reminders concerning etiquette and platitudes about "good choices," etc. Shock and awe seem to work pretty well, though. FEAR THE WRATH OF MOTHER!
At this point, my children have enough experience with the Wrath that they know it by name. They don't have to be told that it will come as surely as the fieriest comet crashing into the Earth and obliterating all of mankind in its blazing inferno. I remind them regularly, just to keep it fresh in their memories...
Me: Do you need to go to the bathroom?
Me: If you pee on my couch I will be so mad that my skin will turn purple and horns will come out of my head and I will bring the whole house down with the sound of my roaring and the gnashing of my teeth.
Kate: I know.
Me: Do you need help with that milk jug?
Maggie: NO! I can do it myself!
Me: You know that if you spill that whole gallon of milk all over the table and the floor I just mopped that my hair will catch on fire and my eyes will pop out of my head and roll around on the floor while red hot lava spews from my nostrils. You know that, right?
Maggie: Fine, be that way. Why don't you pour it instead?
Me: Girls, how much more of your fighting do you think I will be able to listen to before fangs sprout from my mouth and I grow hooves like the Beast and I tear around the house shredding all the curtains and eating your stuffed animals?
Kate: Eleventeen seconds!
Maggie: Probably less than that.
Maybe I'm fooling myself. Maybe I am destroying their fragile psyches. Maybe they will print this post out someday and show it to their parole officers. Maybe they don't even care if I'm angry. Maybe they hear it all as, "Blah blah spit spit blah shouting shouting blah blah curse-word." I don't know for certain, but at least they scatter out of my warpath when they see me coming with my flashing red eyes. And I know that I feel A LOT better afterwards. Sometimes they actually stop doing whatever boneheaded thing they were doing. It's better than just muttering crazily under my breath while they blithely flood the bathroom by stopping up the sink with Kleenex while I'm busy untying the cats.
O, ye children, listen to my words and know this: verily shall your acts of transgression be known by me as I have eyes even upon the back of my head and ears that can hear the smallest of whispers behind the bathroom door. Be forewarned that as you defy the will of your maker, so shall you feel her righteous fury. And the fire of heaven shall rain down upon thee and the angel of vengeance shall be upon thee and YOU SHALL FACE THE WRATH! Behave accordingly.
Can I get an amen?!