We were playing P.O.I.S.O.N. It's a basketball game with very difficult-to-follow-for-the-adult rules. Me and my two kids (boy 11, girl 13). It went well for a while. We played, we laughed, we goofed, we let my daughter go first and mainly control the action.
Then my son got a "P." That's how the game is played. Eventually someone gets a P. Then an O, then an I....etc. P.O.I.S.O.N.
He was not happy. He wanted a slight rule change to benefit him. We were all a little tired. They really wanted to be playing on their electronic devices; I wanted to be working; and the point of playing the game at all was to "earn" more "free" time.... His sister and I were a little mean about it, neither of us wanting to argue with him. We said "Sure, whatever....if you say you don't deserve the P, then don't take the P...and she rolled her eyes and I kind of sighed."
It wasn't the kind of reassurance he was looking for. But in the moment it was the best I could do, feeling about 13 years old myself after 20 minutes of such fun.
He walked in the house. I was more or less silent, not sure where to go from here, when my daughter said "It think it's funny, I just do. So I don't care one bit if he's upset, cause it I think it's hysterical."
My gut feels punched in now. My head begins to swirl some. How many times have I been exactly here with these two? What do I do now? Breathe and stay in the moment.
I say ..."That's not nice and I don't want hear that."...it's not preachy, just true. Yet she persists.
So I too, like my son, leave her there, with the basketball...and walk into the house. It wasn't nice either. I just had nothing better. I could have at least said, "I'm going inside now."
Now I'm in the kitchen where Mom is swaying back and forth. She had been outside too, sitting on a bench, enjoying our game of P.O.I.S.O.N. ...she must have come in before the final skirmish. She's getting her lunchtime Port...swaying from all that sunlight in the backyard. "I'm really almost blind now...Help me please dahling...I need my Port...and my eyes haven't adjusted from the sunlight."
Yes, of course, Mom....I'm getting the ice cubes....the glass, the Port...."Hold on and steady yourself."
And I'm simultaneously thinking "I really need to tell these kids they just cain’t act this way, it ain't right. we're a FAMily and this just ain’t raiite. We need to get along." So I knock on the window that goes out to the porch where my son is and do it in such a way that he knows he needs to come in...and he does.
"We need to go talk to your sister."
I hand Mom her Port. Her balance kicks in...and she goes to her spot by the front door in her red easy chair to "open her appetite."
I don't know what I'm going to say. But my son's willingness to answer my knock has softened me. So by the time we walk to the end of the hallway (he skips), I remember that I can notice all the good that happened instead of the bad.
I was never great at team sports, so that we were playing a group game in the first place, was pretty much a success. That he stormed off, simply tearing up, but not outraged, was also a plus. That she did not react to my commentary about her commentary was great....and that she didn't throw a fit that I rudely left her standing there...bordered on remarkable.
At her bedroom door now...."Hey I need you two to listen to me." a little sharp. My son looks in my eyes, my daughter takes out her earplugs. "What happened out there...I'm not happy the way it ended, but I am happy we all got to play together...that was fun...I enjoyed it...so thank you...and I know it could have ended a lot worse than that....so thanks for not losing your tempers or having any kind of meltdown....I really appreciate being able to just get back on track. I think we're all growing up."
Then, "Okay so I'm making lunch now if you want it."
And that was it.
More and more, that is it....we just move on...and there's more energy left for good times in general.
Tonight after dinner I made them sit with me while we looked at Google images of the White House, the Congress, and the Supreme Court. I told them about the three branches of the US government (1 in 7 United Statesians don't know what they are....) We looked at Google images of the Ukraine and Laos (their ancestral homes), and Japan and the D.R. (places they want to visit.)
The dishes are in the sink, I have the dogs to walk, my mother still needs her bath. Yeah, I admit I'm a little depressed. There's this joy I've known that has gone missing. But I know this is temporary. And I can look back our basketball game and be glad that no harm was done. Sometimes that's the best part in a day.