It was a sweltering day in June. There was no wind at all. It was very muggy and sticky hot.
Isabel was walking home from the supermarket, carrying a bag of groceries. She came home early from work and dropped by at Superstore to check if the store already had the Gameboy Advance Pokemon Emerald that Archie, her ten-year old son, was asking for his birthday. But it was still out of stock. So she just picked up a few items instead.
She looked up as she wiped the sweat from her forehead and saw the beautiful fluffy cloud formations in the sky. She realized that today was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. She was reminded of the fable about the wind and the sun. The one where the wind and the sun had a dispute claiming that one was stronger than the other. When they saw a traveler walking, they agreed to have a contest to see who could make him strip off his cloak first. No matter how the wind blew harder, the traveler only wrapped his cloak tighter. But when the sun shone with all its might, the traveler took off his cloak.
That was what Isabel wanted to do while walking that afternoon, was to strip off her clothes. The heat was so unbearable and she couldn’t wait to get home, or for this day to be done. Little did she know that the mood at home would just be as hot as the temperature outside and tempers would flare.
When Archie came home from school, the first thing he asked was, “Did you buy the game?” When Isabel told him, “No, it’s still out of stock,” the boy was upset. “But I bought you a binder for your Pokemon cards,” she said trying to console him.
Archie had been whining about the GBA since that weekend after his birthday party. “I don’t have a birthday present,” he said. After all the presents he received from his friends, he still wanted a present from his mother. “But your party is my present for you,” explained Isabel. This boy doesn’t realize how much I spend on these parties, Isabel thought.
After they had snacks, Isabel lay down on the couch and turned the TV on Oprah. She had been exhausted recently due to the boys’ basketball rehearsals and games. And her husband, Hector, had also been irritable, crappy, and snapping at her and the boys.
So there she was lying on the couch and Archie was by the door of the TV room whining on and on. She was trying to ignore him as she was so tired and she just wanted to take a nap. Hector shouted from downstairs, “Hey, what are you whining about there?”
He then came up the stairs and yelled in that thunderous voice of his, “Hoy, what are you crying about, hah!”
Archie ran to the bedroom and Hector chased after him.
Isabel heard a commotion. She heard something striking against the wooden post of the bunk bed. Then she heard her 15-year old son, Gerry, said, “because you’re always shouting at him!”
Uh oh! Isabel got up because Gerry said it in the same tone as he did that Monday night when Hector also snapped at Archie.
After supper on Monday, Archie asked if he could go outside when he saw his friends still out there playing. Isabel said, “Okay, after you had a drink first.” So he drank his Kool-Aid and got ready to go. Then Hector, who didn’t see him drink, said in that same thunderous voice, “Hoy, you drink first.” Gerry was still on the table and he said in that irritated voice, “He did!”
When Isabel heard Gerry answer his father in that tone of voice again, she quickly went to the bedroom. Gerry was sitting at his desk. His father was looking angrily at him. He said, “Did I spank him? I struck this, didn’t I? Not your brother.” He was pointing at the leg of the bed. He must have thought that Gerry was questioning him about hitting his brother.
Isabel sat down on the bed beside Archie who had his face down his pillow. She said to Hector, “Why were you shouting at him? He wasn’t even doing anything to you.” Hector said, “Because it’s annoying.” She said, “Was he whining at you? And what? Everytime you get annoyed, you will go on a shouting fit?” Gerry was looking at his father now. But she couldn’t see Hector’s expression as she was behind him.
Then Hector said to Gerry, “Why do you talk to me like that? Don’t I feed you and provide a roof over your head?”
Isabel couldn’t take it anymore, “Shh! Stop it! That’s enough!”
She wanted to tell Gerry not to answer back to his father anymore. She was relieved when he didn’t utter anything else and when Hector went back downstairs.
She stroke Archie’s back and said, “I’ll buy your Gameboy on Sunday. Stop crying now.” She was so tired and just wanted a good nap. And this was what happened.
Isabel hated it. She hated the whole situation. Gerry was usually a good, obedient and quiet son. It broke her heart to see her son go through this conflict with his father, and at such a young age. She knew that Gerry shouldn’t have answered back at his father. And yet she couldn’t tell him that he shouldn’t have done that. Because what her son said, that was also what she had been always telling Hector. Lately, she had been ignoring his snappiness because she was starting to get hurt by the things he had been firing back at her.
She could only take his shouting at her up to a certain point. She has already told him not to shout at her in front of the kids. That was not setting a good example. What did he think that shows the kids, that he didn’t respect her? That that’s the way you treat your wife? And she also couldn’t take him shouting at the kids unreasonably. Yet she knew that she would also snap at him once in a while. Snap, not shout.
Was he venting out his frustration and anger towards the wrong person? Isabel knew only too well why her husband was cranky. It wasn’t because he has been out of work for a few months now or that he has been tired in bringing the boys back and forth to their basketball rehearsals and games. It wasn’t that. It was because she had been sleeping on the couch for quite a while now. He could serve her with both hands and feet, he could even feed her with a spoon in her mouth, but if he still shouted at her like he was her slave, she couldn’t force herself to lie in bed with him. And just like that wind in the fable, the more he continued blowing off steam like that, the more she couldn’t stand to be in the same room with him, not even let the hairs of his skin touch her when she was that upset with him.
The next day was even hotter than the day before. But you could sense the very cold feeling in the house. You could cut the tension with a knife. Just before lunch, Gerry told Isabel that he was going out with his friend, Scott, downtown, on their bikes. She asked Hector if he could let his son use his bike and helmet. When she saw him fixing Archie’s helmet, she asked him, “Why that one? That would be too small for Gerry.” He snapped, “My helmet is too big for him. His head will shake inside that big helmet. This one actually fits me so it’s good enough for him.” Whoa! I was just asking, no need to snap, she thought.
She felt relieved though. At least she knew that he still cared for his son.
Entry filed under: Roadblocks.