Strange Case, That Jekyll


Parenting has proven to be an endeavor that works best while keeping the inner Jekyll and Hyde in balance…BUT, balance, you elude me more than the Holy Grail somedays. In fact, balance (at least 24 consecutive hours of it) seems to elude me on nearly all days that end in the letter ‘y’.

Example:  As I type these very words, my daughter rehearses for her school’s Jump Rope For Heart debut while just 26 inches from my head (mind you, there’s a whole house available for her manic LOUDness). It is 6:45 pm. The stretch of hours between school dismissal and bedtime are sometimes referred to by mothers of the world as the witching hours. Let not the irony of the voodooish word choice be lost on you.

At this point, I’m thinking of banging my own head against the wall to the same beat with which her jumping shakes the whole house. She is trying to nail the criss-cross rope trick. I guess that’s how to impress the cute boys these days? Beats the hell out of some daisy dukes up to you-know-where but, still, I start to feel that stiffness in my neck … it signals that I am perhaps about to lose my head to which previously mentioned neck is attached. I can actually hear the hanging wine glasses clinking together across the room in the kitchen as if to say fill me up, buttercup. They clink in the milleseconds following every single foot crashing of the jumprope extravaganza like a battle hymn or funeral dirge- take your pick.

Two feet beyond daughter, my son is still pissed that his latest cardboard box project didn’t turn out to be the turtle shell that he envisioned. This happens with nearly every box that is delivered to our front doorstep. I have a shopping problem with Amazon books so we can factor in a cardboard box debacle on a near-weekly basis. Seriously, the kid is the type of project manager that would make working for Steve Jobs seem like being crowned cherry-placer on the sundaes at Maggie Moo’s. He is hardcore. His expectations far exceed his outcomes 95 % of the time even when his assistant (yours truly) shows him fingers bleeding from multiple papercuts. The kid hovers over me as if to say, that all you got?, while dangling the duct tape from his index finger. Hardcore.

These are really darn good kids too, I tell ya. But once you’ve spelled the 508th word letter-by-letter of the afternoon, cried over spilled milk (literally), and realized that the trash you so haphazardly tossed in the backyard last night instead of walking it the extra 15 feet to the garbage cans has now fed 18 feral cats who treated your backyard like a feline rave venue, you can go straight up Jekyll for NO REASON this. very. second.

The act of losing your mind isn’t so bad. They’re all used to it by now. They sometimes even take cover (in their rooms) when the tremors or stiff neck begin to show. I have literally seen them back away slowly when I place my palm around the back of head like I am checking both earlobes for temperature. It is that stupid thick, tingly guilt after that really causes the problem….it ripples in outward circles for hours after the Jekyll episode. Or is it Hyde? See what I mean? They are so intertwined that I’ll need to consult Wikipedia after the internet blackout to confirm.

I apologize to all affected in the wake of my moment or shall we say, meltdown (which is actually plural for moments). Apologies are genuinely and usually accepted. I hang my head for a little bit but then realize that I am really not supposed to carry on with this tail-between-the-legs act for very long.

I am, after all, showing my kids the art of imperfection. To teach them that perfection is attainable in this life would be a grave disservice. Instead, I am modeling what it looks like to better ourselves at being imperfect. What it looks like to be…human? Modeling what a crash in perfection looks like and how to make a smooth landing that everyone can walk or crawl away from. I am showing them what a real person looks like on a real good day and on a real bad day too. I am showing them that conflict resolution is important and possible in every household- especially theirs.

And here is the twist…Here is where Hyde spins me right on my head stiff neck and all. Tomorrow, when these kids are at school and there is no sound in this house- save the Grateful Dead playlist barely audible in the serene background, I will miss them. I will miss every single sound, thump, smell and crumb of them here. 

Strangest thing. Imperfectly perfect. I’ll take it. sb

Here then, as I lay down the pen and proceed to seal up my confession, I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end. -Robert Louis Stevenson-


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