was never something I had ever, ever intended to do. All moms and some dads who’ve had daughters know those awful, awful, hormonal, pre-teen, just-shoot-me-years. That’s how old Shannon was when I tackled her. It was a fairly normal school morning when Shannon was in 6th grade. I’d gotten the children up for school and going through the whole routine breakfast, dress, get to the bus on time routine. For about 3 weeks in a row Shannon had a fabulous new habit of loudly announcing that she didn’t want to be awake and that everything in the world was wrong. She sounded something like this “bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch”. Actually, she was louder and more demanding. The younger kids just tried to stay the hell out of her way.
Trust me, I am not a morning person. I worked evenings at the time and when I got home from work I’d spend hours reading, watching tv, doing laundry or whatever. I think my normal bedtime was around 4am. I’d get up, get the kids off to school and then go back to bed for a few hours. I can’t say that I was ever entirely awake when I got them off to school.
On this particular morning I was no Carol Brady. After requesting a few times that Shannon simmer down and not being listened to I got in her face, probably pretty loudly. I pointed out to her that she wasn’t the only person in the world and that none of the rest of us wanted to be up either but we weren’t bitching and carrying on. How I’ve just written it is, I’m sure, a lot nicer than how I presented it to Shannon. I don’t remember my exact words and I’m sure I added some choice ones in my presentation to her. She stormed into her room and I took a breath. Not 2 minutes later she came out of her room “bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch”. At the exact moment she walked down the hall bitching I accidentally stepped into the cat’s water dish and I snapped. In my frustration I picked up the cat dish and threw it at the wall. I missed.
I had one of those fake antique bubble gum machines (half full) that was given to me when I was a teenager. I loved it. Guess what I hit when I missed the wall with the cat dish. Yep, it shattered, glass and gumballs flew everywhere. That shut Shannon up. For a moment, just for a moment. Come to think of it, that shut everyone up. After her moment of silence, Shannon started apologizing to me over and over and over. I let her know that it was NOT her fault that I broke the bubblegum machine. I let her know that I was an adult and I was the one in charge of my actions and I’m the one who picked up the dish and threw it. It was my decision, no one had made me do it and I should have behaved much better than that. I reminded her that I hadn’t been happy with her behavior and told her why but stressed that my breaking the gumball machine was not her fault.
She seemed to understand and calmed down and went back to her room to get dressed or get her things or something. When she came back out 3 minutes later she came out “bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch”. That was the snap after the snap. I chased her down, tackled her to the ground, sat on her, pinned her down and with my finger in her face, told her exactly what I thinking at the time. Not a proud moment in my parental history, and later that moment got worse. I’m only 5 feet 2 and didn’t weigh very much at the time but I was still bigger than a 6th grader. It also wasn’t a matter of her being physically hurt. Emotionally scarred maybe? I don’t know, you’d have to ask Shannon how it feels to have a parent tackle you. Once I finished my rant I looked up and the other 2 kids were staring at me with horror on their faces. I could have died.
The kids when off to school but I didn’t go back to bed that day. I sat down and put my head in my hand. I felt like I’d just done the lowest thing on earth. One can never take back anything one’s already done, not ever. I had tackled my 12 year old and mortified my younger kids. That’s kind of a heavy thing to wear. I had to live with it.
A week or so passed, we all continued with life. When Alex was little he had the habit of saying “um” a lot and not quite looking people in the eye when he talked to them. Alex and I were doing something together when he said “hey mom”, I answered him and he asked me “you know that time you tackled Shannon?”……heavy sigh….”yes”… I looked at him. He was darting his eyes this way and that way avoiding contact with me “um….is that going to happen a lot?”. SLAM! Once again I felt like the lowest life form ever. I assured him that that was never going to happen again and added “okay?” and made him look me in the eye. “Okay” he said.
A year or two later Samantha was being a pill at bedtime. She found every reason in the world to get up repeatedly. I finally agreed that she could sleep in my bed if she would stay there. She didn’t . I don’t know what I was doing that last time she got out of bed and came out into the living room, but whatever it was , I was doing it from a sitting position. I remember that because when I stood up, she ran back to my bed. I followed her to my room and demanded to know why she had gotten out of bed, yet again. She informed me that she was afraid of something outside. I informed her that the only thing she had to be afraid of was inside and that it was me. At that she kind of giggled and told me “mommy, the only time I was afraid of you was when you sat on Shannon”. Again, SLAM! This is why we are supposed to stop and think before we ever say or do anything.
Not one of the 3 kids has ever brought that incident up again. A few years later I confessed this to my friends one night after work when we went out for a beer. Not a fun thing to confess. My girlfriend, Paula, fell into gales of laughter. I looked at her, she looked at me and in between laughter she said “I can just see little you doing that”. As much as I’ve tried to look at it from Paula’s point of view, find the humor in everything…nah. Low point in life.
To Shannon’s credit, she grew out of that awful, awful, pre-teen, hormonal, just-shoot-me-stage pretty quickly. Honestly, there was only one other time I ever felt the urge to tackle her physically. I refrained from the physical and tackled her verbally instead. Shame on me for that one, too. However, it wasn’t much later that we were in the car and she informed me that all of her friends hated their moms and she didn’t. That and her friends thought I was pretty cool. I don’t imagine she ever told them I tackled her. To my credit, I have mostly learned to quit throwing things. The gumballs? We kept finding them for months afterward. Alex and Samantha? They either never gave me a reason to tackle them, because I’d terrified them when I’d done it to Shan, or I never tackled them because I learned after tackling Shannon.