Sometimes I silently cringe when I listen to my husband scold the kids. Tonight was one of those times.
Elbow deep in dinner and lots of pots and pans, I asked my husband if he could speak to #2 about his writing. I’d already been playing mean mom for the past hour-he’d scribble his name all over his homework and I’d make him erase it and rewrite it and his sloppy answers. It was a tactic that was wearing us both down. 2 was tired and getting frustrated because he just wanted to get it done, while I wanted him to slow down and see the importance of being able to actually read what he wrote.
I listened as the husband tried to calm down #2, who was now flopping his body on his chair like a fish out of water.
“Sit and show me what mom is bugging you about so you can go play,” he said.
2 passed him his homework, confident that dad was going to be on his side and assure him that mom was crazy. Instead what he got was:
“Look at this penmanship! No one can ever read this. You can’t grow up to be a good person if you write like this.”
My husband always complains that I interfere and get upset when he tries to do something-which is why, according to him, he just doesn’t do anything. This response has led to several arguments.
“That’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard,” I’ve said. “So you’re afraid that I’ll be upset with how you put your clothes away, so you just didn’t put them away.”
“Exactly,” he says. “This way there’s no argument.”
“But we’re arguing now because you don’t put the clothes away.”
“But imagine the argument if I had put them away. Too many shirts not fitting in one drawer or jamming the dresser because I didn’t space them out properly…it’s a no win either way.”
Some people question why I cave and walk away from these arguments. My response is how do you stay and even acknowledge something as dumb as that?
So, this time I stood horrified in the kitchen, listening to my husband “teach” our son.
“I want you to think about all of the good people you see. They all have good handwriting.”
“Aunt Maria,” I coughed from the kitchen.
“What did you say,” my husband called out.
Now I know I said I wouldn’t interfere, but this one was just too good.
“Aunt Maria is a certified chemist and she has awful handwriting.”
“I’ve never seen her handwriting, so I can’t say if I believe you or not,” he smirked. “Have you ever met a mean person with nice penmanship?”
“Is this serious,” I ask, growing bored and irratated.
“I bet you’ve never met a mean person who had nice handwriting.”
“But, if they’re not a nice person why would I want to hang around to see their handwriting?”
“Exactly. You wouldn’t because it would be bad and they probably wouldn’t want to show you anyway.” He turned to face #2, “Would you feel like a good person if everyone saw this handwriting on the wall?”
“Okay,” I said, taking #2’s sloppy homework paper and scooting him away from the table. “Dinner’s done. Homework can wait until tomorrow morning. Go play and we’ll worry about this later.”
2 happily pounced away while the husband sat grinning at me.
“I can’t believe you really tried to win my handwriting argument,” he grinned.
I rolled my eyes and walked away. The husband had won again due to mental exhaustion. Tomorrow I’d have to find a fun, creative way to help 2 with his penmanship-Pinterest style. But, as I pulled the roast out of the oven, I did find myself thinking of all the people whose penmanship I’ve ever seen. And I can admit, other than our wonderfully sweet, non-mean, Aunt Maria, I couldn’t think of any mean, angry penmanship owners.