Well, it happened. Whiny and Punch had been bickering incessantly over some idiotic video game that will only serve them in life if they decide to climb a clock tower, and I hit my limit. I flipped the switch, shutting off the game. My timing apparently could not have been worse: Punch was on the verge of killing a record number of zombies (or vampires) when I pulled the plug. This initiated a tantrum, the likes of which I had never seen. And that’s when it happened—mid-conniption—he said it, I hate you!

        At first I thought I would be more upset. I mean I do work as a maid, cook, doctor, driver, laundress, therapist and personal trainer for this child, and this is the thanks I get? Then I stepped back and caught a glimpse of the bigger picture: Punch was almost as shocked as I was to hear the words come out of his mouth. The guilt crept over his face immediately. This precious woman who gave him life, who provides peanut butter cups and birthday gifts and tickets to Cardinals’ games…What have I done? I will tell you exactly what you’ve done: You’ve given your dear mother a ticket—a ticket to go on a guilt trip.

        With my newfound power in tow, I did my best Norma Desmond, and forehead-to-brow, retired to the boudoir. A few minutes, later there was a knock on the door. Mommy, can I come in? No reply. Oh, it is on. After several attempts and some tears (nice try), I tell him that I can’t talk to him because I have to plant the tomato plants we bought. Oh they got planted, all right. Before the sun had set, Punch had loaded the dishwasher, cleaned up his room and started his summer reading.

    Exactly how long I can milk this situation is questionable. It really depends on how long he feels guilty about verbally abusing the woman who spent 72 hours in labor without food or water to give birth to him—oh yes, I’ll go there. I may even incorporate some sort of recurring pain or injury from the event, if it will get me some vacuuming done. And in the meantime, I’m getting a lot more I love you’s out of the kid. Of course, we know our children love us, but it’s nice to get a little reminder from time to time.  LN

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