In my younger years my temper never bothered me—I was a hothead about pretty much everything. I really can’t say when I decided it was time to change this behavior, because it happened so slowly, over a huge amount of time, but now I hate it when I lose control.
This week my daughter made a foolish choice and climbed over the fence we share with a neighbor to grab a football that had fallen into their yard. She rang the doorbell but nobody came, so she thought it best to take care of the problem by retrieving the football herself.
To say this older couple is anxious about their fence would be an understatement. I put up with the husband coming into our yard to check his precious fence several times after we first moved in years ago. Every little thing we did while putting in our yard was watched, like the “eyes of a hawk,” from their back porch. The constant reminders that if we broke their fence we would have to pay for it wasn’t fun either, but I figured with a little patience and time they would come to realize we weren’t the terrible neighbors they feared. I even had my kids help me shovel their driveway the entire winter last year so the older woman wouldn’t have to do it. We didn’t ask for pay, we didn’t even ask for thanks, we were just trying to show them we were good neighbors.
Well…that came crashing down the moment my daughter jumped that stupid fence to get the football. Unbeknownst to us, the older couple had been in their backyard, sitting in the dark, observing the end of summer bonfire my teenage kids were having with their friends. The moment my daughter jumped the fence, they freaked.
I get a not so gentle knock on my front door and find my daughter in the clutches of the older woman. The older woman shoves the now recovered football into my face and proceeds to tell me what my daughter had done. I do my best to squash my sigh and take the ball from her hand. The woman pulls it back only to shove it back into my face and reminds me that if we break the fence we would have to pay for it.
That was it—the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’ve never physically shoved someone older than me in my entire life, but I pushed that woman until she no longer stood on my property. All the while, my now full blown temper yelled so loud I’m sure everyone in our neighborhood heard me. “You would think by now you would have figured out that we’re not the kind of people who wouldn’t fix something if we broke it! Yes, my daughter made a mistake, but she’s a good kid, and she’s been good to you! They are children! And they have a right to be children and have fun! Maybe if you’d take a second and remember what that felt like you’d stop being such a lunatic!”
My performance didn’t leave me happy once the red haze faded—even if the old-biddy deserved it. I showed my children, and all their friends that came, my very worst trait. Parenting 101 fail!