Sunday, June 1, 2008
Not in Front of the Kids
"Oh well, I woke up in bed, it was the middle of the night/
And we were still involved in a great big fight."
Things have been a little tense around here lately. Kids, work, career, which swimming pool do we go to--whatever the conflagration, sometimes me and Anette bicker like a couple of old hens. It's usually me who loses my cool and goes too far, while Anette is a master of that very plain look which says, 'Do you really want to go there?' Yesterday morning, we huffed and puffed all over the house, from the living room to the bathroom and back. In the kitchen, while we were going at it, V. walked over to the stove and turned all the burners on full blast, just to try to get us to shut up. When we didn't, and the "discussion" moved into the kids' room, I looked over at Adinah at one point and wondered, 'Does it upset her to see her adoptive parents fight?'
I can count the times I saw my own parents fight on one hand, and Anette says she never saw hers in a tussle. Maybe that's generational: thirty or forty years ago, the idea seemed to be that arguing in front of your kids was both hurtful and undignified. I don't know if that's changed. I've only read three books about parenting, and two of them had completely different opinions on the matter. One, a gem called "How to Raise a Lady," declared that one must never lose their temper with their child. (Ooops!) The other, by Jesper Juul, the modern-day Dr. Spock of our Euro peers, takes a more nuanced, permissive view of mama-papa squabbles, throw he draws the line at parents who use pro wrestler moves like the Bleeding Skull.
In any case, yesterday, after the verbal fisticuffs subsided and apologies were quietly exchanged, I did meet the girls at the swimming pool, and then we had a very nice picnic in the park. We crawled home, sun-dazed and beat, and everyone went to bed early. Neither Adinah nor V. saw Anette nor I say 'I'm sorry,' to each other, but they watched us acting like we'd said it. Maybe that's enough.
I guess we'll know in ten or twenty years, huh?