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Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 10.13.06
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

Keeping my cool, nearly

The last thing I want to do is to embarrass my children. Okay, maybe it's not the last thing. I mean, if I had to choose between something terrible like having Céline Dion as a houseguest or embarrassing my children, I'm sorry, but the kids would have to suck it up.

For the purposes of this weekly column, however, I don't intentionally set out to embarrass my children. This never used to be an issue but now three out of four of them can read; it's much more difficult to exploit them when there's a possibility that they or their friends might happen upon the column.

Soon they'll be old enough to have their own lawyers, so I try to be careful.

Consequently, the identity of the child in the following anecdote has been changed. Any resemblance to any individual with the same hair colour, age, and identifying birthmarks is purely coincidental.

Let's call this child "Sandy." Gender-free Sandy.

The other day after school, Sandy and his or her friends were out on the front porch jumping around and making a racket. I was in the kitchen trying to have a conversation with one of my other children, who for the sake of anonymity we'll call "Leslie."

"Hang on, Leslie," I said. Then I yelled, "Sandy! Quit banging the skateboard on the porch!"

"It's not me. It's Adrian." (Sandy's friend; not his or her real name.)

"Adrian, knock it off."

I went back to my conversation with Leslie. But within minutes the banging started again. "Hold on, Leslie," I said again and stormed to the front door.

Now, during all this, Abby had been playing with her toys in the next room. (That's her real name; she can't read yet so it's okay.) She has a knack of spreading these small figures over wide areas like extras in a miniature Cecil B. DeMille movie.

I reached the front door, yanked it open quickly and stuck my head out. But unseen by me, a Buzz Lightyear figure was jammed in the floor vent just inside the front door. As I swung the door open, it hit the Buzz and ricocheted back, pang! right on my ear.

"AAAAHH! Swear word!" I yelped, holding my ear in pain.

Now I was really mad. I picked up Buzz and launched him into the next room. Then I turned on Sandy:

"I told you to stop banging the skateboard!"

"I'm not!" he or she replied.

"Sandy, I'm right in the kitchen. I can hear you!"

"It wasn't me!"

"Well, whoever it is, stop it!" I shouted and slammed the door.

For the second time in the space of a minute, the door came springing back at me. This time it was Sandy pushing it open, tears of frustration on his or her face.

"It's not fair," Sandy shouted. "You're just yelling at me because you got hurt. It's not my fault."

"Well, I wouldn't have gotten hurt if you hadn't been making all that noise!" I yelled back.

"I WASN'T DOING ANYTHING!"

I saw red. I hauled Sandy inside and said to the friends, "You boys [or girls] better go home."

We stormed off to our separate areas, me in the kitchen, Sandy sulking in a chair.

My ear still throbbed but my anger quickly subsided and I realized that Sandy was right: I had lashed out because of the pain. I'm the parent, the mature, rational one. I shouldn't let anger control me.

I should apologize. But I had to wait a bit, save some parental face.

"Sandy, I'm sorry," I said eventually from the kitchen. "You're right. I got more angry than I should have."

Waiting, waiting, waiting… Nothing. No apology. No "I'm sorry too for talking back and nearly bashing you in the head with the door." Zip. Sandy just sat there.

I decided to take the high road and let it go. Like I said, I'm the mature one. But if Sandy had thrown a plastic Power Ranger at me, boy, would he or she have been in big trouble!

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