When my daughter decided to hide from me in the thrift shop so that we had to do a Code Adam lockdown while all of the shoppers helped me locate her? I was cool and organized when it happened, took care of what I had to, and once I found her I quietly told her how scary that was and to never do it again.
When the kids scratched the brand-new, flat-screen TV by playing ball in the living room after I told them precisely one bajillion times not to do exactly that? Just pointed upstairs without a word—where they knew they’d be in time-out for a while.
When my son fell off the monkey bars, and the sound of his scream across the schoolyard instantly told me he had broken his arm? I ran over, scooped him up, grabbed his sister, finagled a makeshift sling with a brace for the ride to the ER, took care of it without a tear or anxious breath. And once he healed, I was 100% OK with him climbing on stuff again.
It doesn’t matter if it is a terribly bad decision or an accident while messing around or gravity doing its thing, I simply don’t freak the freak out when the big stuff happens. Those things don’t rattle me, or chip away at my mental stamina.
I’ve teetered on the cusp of losing my shit over the little things many, many times. It’s kind of like my sanity is able to handle big deals in one fell swoop of awfulness because my kids probably know how awful it was. But the little things build and build and tug tug tug at that last thread of sanity left in me until I find myself loudly shouting a long diatribe about how and why we do not, in fact, put our feet on the table during dinner.
Maybe it’s because I know they know better? Maybe it’s because there’s a literal biological lifetime limit to how many times one human can tell another human a certain directive before the mental bomb explodes BOOOM. Maybe, the older I get, I’m just losing my patience for small annoyances at a higher rate.
What I do know is that when the day comes that I finally lose my mind for good—and you find me rocking in a corner saying, “But but but I used the word ‘please’”—we can probably blame one of the following scenarios as the last straw that put me over the edge because it’s the little things that count:
- Underwear tangled within a pair of inside-out pants.
- Dirty outfit on the floor six inches away from the half-empty hamper.
- Clean outfit worn for only 12 minutes and placed in the hamper on actual dirty clothes.
- Snack cabinet left open in an empty room.
- Not flushing.
- Fourteenth week in a row that my son needed to remember to bring his instrument to school for band class: forgets it.
- Empty container of anything left in the fridge.
- Begged, pleaded, bargained for me to buy a new food: refuses to eat it.
- Balled-up socks.
- Her singing that awful, annoying, soul-murdering song from a bad tweenage sitcom so much it gets stuck in my head.
- Throw pillows on the floor in front of the couch again.
- Insists he’ll finish the whole bowl of cereal/pretzels/popcorn he poured himself: barely touches it.
- Not closing the cereal box.
- Touches me with sticky hands.
- Didn’t get socks when I told her to get socks.
- When I’m cutting their toenails and they’re so ticklish that they just won’t sit still.
- Jacket thrown on the closet floor beneath row of perfectly accessible and unused coat hangers.
- Wears play clothes to school, then changes into school clothes for play.
- Doesn’t take “no” for an answer.
Kim Bongiorno is an author, full time freelance writer, and the blogger behind Let Me Start By Saying. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter, hire her to write for you or speak at your event, or buy her cotton candy because that stuff is delicious.