Pride comes before a fall. I had planned to explain how I had overcome my problem of getting angry and yelling at the kids. Sigh.
It was Christmas Eve 2010, and I was determined to get everyone out the door early, so all eight of us could sit together on the main floor for the candlelight service at church. I was already frustrated, because I didn’t have enough help preparing the meal and cleaning up afterward. I yelled for my daughter to help put food away and clear the table. Abby wasn’t moving fast enough, so I started barking out orders like a drill sergeant.
Ramon called me from the other room. “What do you want?” I asked impatiently. He ordered me to come and sit down by him. First, he rebuked me for my flippant attitude toward him just then, and then he told me that the way I was yelling at Abby was completely unacceptable and that I had earned five swats for yelling and five for my disrespectful attitude (to be delivered when we had some privacy). He was using his stern voice, the one that makes me feel submissive and a little bit intimidated. I said I was sorry and went to find Abby. I apologized to her and sent her to tell everyone to get ready for church and to remind Derek to take the dogs out.
As we were piling into cars, Derek ran back into the house. “What is he doing?” I asked angrily. Ramon replied, “Just settle down.” A minute later, Derek comes back out with the dogs! I rolled down my window and screamed, “Get those stupid dogs back in the house. We don’t have time for this nonsense.” Looking sheepishly over at Ramon, I saw him flash five fingers and then another five, and then another five. My eyes got big. He was promising me 15 swats , plus the previous ten! Then he told me in that firm sexy voice that I needed to apologize to Derek and everyone in the car. However, Derek jumped in the other car, and we drove off.
We arrived at church two minutes before the service was to start. Of course, the main floor was packed, so we had to go way up in the balcony. I fumed inside while looking all churchy-pleasant on the outside. Partway through the service, my heart melted.
In the car again, I apologized to Derek. He said, “I forgive you. Dad stops you before you lose your mind, so we’re cool. And sorry for not taking the dogs out earlier.” Ramon reminded the kids that they need to help around the house, even during Christmas. He praised me for making such delicious food and keeping thing running smoothly, and then he said, “We’re all going to try hard to be patient with one another and not raise voices or talk back. Are we all clear on this?” The kids immediately replied affirmatively, and I nodded.
After the kids had jumped out of the car, Ramon took my hand and said, “You need to watch your attitude. You have 25 swats coming already. That’s because there is no way I’ll let you go back to the old Alexandra. Do you understand what I’m saying?” I nodded and said, “Yes, sir.” The “sir” thing just isn’t done much here in the north, but it slipped out. Maybe because his lecture made me feel chastened. Then I felt shy. He smiled reassuringly and said, “That’s my girl,” before giving me a kiss. The rest of Christmas weekend was wonderful.
My New Year’s resolution is to make it through all the holidays this year without blowing up. I told Ramon that, and he nodded approvingly. He hugged me to himself and replied, “You better do a good job of controlling that temper, because I’m going to nip any anger or defiance in the bud.” I smiled shyly and said, “Thank you. I really do appreciate your help.” He whispered in my ear, “I’ve got your back. Your backside rather.” We both laughed. Welcome to the new year.