It had been building up for a few days. Bubbling, smoldering, I'd go so far as to say festering.
The boy was pushing hard, despite constant warnings to stop the whining, use his manners and hearing the term I find myself saying multiple times a day - “listen and follow directions, pick up your Lego's!”
I think lingering effects from the Halloween sugar high had him thinking that the power of the household had shifted from parent to child, and he had free reign to do as he pleased.
He was mistaken.
Historically, I have been the disciplinarian in the household. I guess dads usually are.
In our house, we have “daddy baths” when they've been bad or we're in a hurry. That operation runs without toys and I take on the attitude of a Marine drill sergeant. They don't like daddy baths.
And every mother has pulled the “do I need to get your dad in here?” card.
Recently I realized that I was tired of always being the bad guy – the fodder of threats to make children behave.
So I've softened up on things like bed times and digging holes in the yard and finding food in his room that he was “keeping for winter.”
So after a few consecutive days of misbehavior from both children, patience was drastically thin. And then the boy went too far.
He made his mom mad.
And we all know what that means. When mom isn't happy, no one is.
In the panicked moments that followed, I forgot exactly what he had said. But it was during a dispute over remaining Halloween candy, demands were made and denied.
He struck the final blow, something to the tune of her being the worst mom ever.
And since she is a great mother, she obviously took offense. This the the moment I usually jump in, but I stayed out of it this time.
Every kid makes this comment from time to time, and he's no stranger to it.
He just had bad timing on this one.
I immediately shot him the “uh-oh” look, but since we were in the car, he decided to push even more.
That got the “stop if you want to live another day” look from me.
I knew better than to chime in. I learned when to keep my mouth shut the hard way (still lesson-in-progress status). If he would've heeded my warnings, he might have averted disaster.
Don't get me wrong, he got off pretty easy compared to what I remember, but the wooden spoon did show up to say hello (as a warning against further misbehavior) when we got home.
Page 2 of 2 - The kid has such a soft heart and desire for approval that he gets really upset when people are upset with him. This never fails to bring tears.
Since all television, reading and playing privileges had been revoked for the evening, it was straight to bed after teeth were brushed and we said our prayers.
The kids gave hugs and kisses, and the boy sulked into his room, still sobbing.
I followed to tuck him in, and all I could think to say was, "I bet you wished you would've got in trouble with me instead of mom, huh?"
That brought a little smile to his face, which led to a chuckle, and it became a perfect teaching moment.
We talked for awhile about respect and the no means no mantra.
I hope he learned that some things are better left unsaid, and maybe learned when to just let something go.
But I really believe the most important lesson he got that day is very simple, should be self-explanatory and is generally understood - though not always practiced - by every married man in this world.
Don't make momma mad.
Jesse Murphy is managing editor at the Maryville Daily Forum. He can be reached at email@example.com