From the Archives: I Think My Kids Are Trying to Gaslight Me

Still on hiatus! This one’s from July 20, 2009

Have you ever seen the movie Gaslight? It’s old, black and white. A husband tries to drive his wife mad by saying things happen or don’t happen. She finally starts questioning her sanity.

Here I am on Day 46 (for those of you who are new, that’s the number of days of summer vacation…give or take a few because everything’s getting blurry…) and I am convinced my teenagers are trying to drive me mad.

I have discussions with them–OK, I am bitching at them about something!–and they appear to be listening. But they aren’t. If they do choose to reply, they do it under their breath. They whisper just loud enough so I can hear it. Then they deny ever saying it.

The other night Jim took Aaron out to play baseball because the twins said Aaron was too little to play hard ball with the big boys. Mere moments after Jim and Aaron walk to the nearby baseball field, they stumble back in the door. Jim’s boasting a HUGE bruise on his chin. Aaron hit him with a hit ball. (Jim getting hurt by the big boys is a separate post altogether!)

When the twins come in, I tell them what happened. I point out that Aaron managed to hurt their dad. Jermaine mumbles under his breath, “Yeah, sure.”

Jim’s telling them he was throwing fast pitches and Aaron was nailing everything. Jermaine whispers once again, “Like you can throw as hard as we do.”

Let me explain that the twins’ baseball prowess has taken a downward turn since they became track stars. Every time I go to one of their games, I want to groan out loud and yell, “For this I paid $300?!” Instead, I smile and say things to the coaches (Jim’s the assistant coach) and other parents, “Boy, they are sure here to have fun!” As there are errors after errors made by the entire team. I wonder if all the parents watching are thinking the same thing!

Seriously, they couldn’t have had fun without me paying $300?! There’s a ball field a block away. Some of their friends drive. They could be over there every single afternoon playing ball.

But I digress…

After the conversation about baseball and who throws harder, I had to keep questioning myself. Did I really hear Jermaine right? I didn’t hear him right. He wouldn’t say those things.

Of course he would…he’s a teenager.

It hits me the next morning in the shower that I did hear him right. I am not deaf. I am in my 40s…not my 80s. I don’t need a hearing aid! I need respect! I heard everything he said.

Unfortunately, I can’t smack the crap out of him the next morning! (You don’t have to point out that I can’t smack him because I can’t reach! I already know that!)

The twins do this a lot. In the middle of some conflict, they mutter things. Just low enough so I don’t have to respond. Just low enough so I question what I heard. But not loud enough that I can react at that very moment because I am not sure I heard them right!

So my new resolution is to stop doubting myself. I am right. I am the mother! I will react to what I hear. Sure, I’ll get it wrong a few times. But for those times I get it right…watch out, boys! There’s no Gaslight-ing Mama!

Happy Monday!

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