“Jack seemed angry at you when he saw you at our place,” Wes tells me.
We are driving to record a podcast for a new show I’m doing with Melissa Story about being single moms (shameless plug), and I’ve asked Wes to be our third guest.
It’s also the last day of a five-day Juice Cleanse I am on. I hate cleanses and people who do cleanses and people who talk about doing cleanses. And people who talk about ‘how great they feel’ after a cleanse.
But here I am: One of ‘those’ people. I haven’t had any coffee since last Sunday and I’ve been living on five juices, an elixir, lemon water, liver-cleansing tea and Moksha yoga. For FIVE DAYS. Okay, I’ll admit I do have strange spurts of energy and insight. I wake up clear. I’m having amazing dreams.
But I have terrible terrible terrible breath and no patience.
Thursday night was the worst. I let Jack watch too much many episodes of iCarly on Netflix and then I told him he absolutely had to take a bath. He begrudgingly started to go upstairs, taking a detour to climb the bannister – which I told him not to do.
“Get down Jack you’re getting too big you’re going to break it.” No response. “Jack, Ja-ack.”
Sometimes we go to this place, my son and I. It’s like I’m telling him things and he acts like he doesn’t hear me and I know that he does but also I don’t expect him to act like he can hear me. But I still say it because I am the parent and that’s my job: Mommy.
“Jack, please get down.” It’s like we are in a Beckett play: Waiting for Godot, Nickelodeon-style.
Finally he leaps down and takes a step up the stairs, but then he turns around and goes “Huh!” right in my face like an obnoxious teenage delinquent from Rebel Without A Cause. No, it’s borderline Clockwork Orange.
My son is only (just turned) eight and he’s already channelling Malcolm McDowell. I grab his arm and turn him around hard. And I get right in his face with my ‘crazy lady’ eyes.
“You cannot act like this! You need to treat me with respect!”
“No I don’t.”
“Yes! You do!”
He runs up the stairs. “That’s it, no video games tomorrow!” I yell at his back.
“I don’t care. Anyways, I’m with Daddy and so you can’t do that.”
“Oh yes I can!”
I start calling Wes on the cell phone. And then I try another tactic, one my mom used to use on me when I was a kid.
Fine, Jack. I’m done, do what you want. Stay up late, don’t have a bath, watch video games! I’m done telling you what to do.
It’s basically the mom version of ‘I’m breaking up with you.’ He goes downstairs crying. I stay up in my bedroom and hyperventilate. A post-adrenaline exhaustion hits me. I feel bad. I hate losing my temper – especially with Jack. I feel like I’m failing as a parent. I feel like I’m failing, period.
I go downstairs and find him in bed. He’s changed into pajamas. He’s crying. It’s too sad for words.
“Come on Jack. I’m sorry. Mommy’s sorry she lost her temper. Do you want to go upstairs and have a bath?”
He nods tearfully.
“See, I didn’t play video games,” he tells me, pathetically. We go through our bath and bedtime rituals being extra nice to each other.
* * *
So back to the car ride with Wes.
“Maybe he’s angry at you because he needs more structure, clearer boundaries,” Wes suggests.
This makes me want to cry and punch him at the same time. I choose to just cry. I have no defenses, because I’ve only been drinking juice.
“We can talk to him together.” Wes tells me. In my mind, it’s happening, Wes is the better parent. He and Sarah provide a healthier family environment for Jack. He wants to be with them. Jack will choose them. It’s all so terrible. Ahhhhhhhhhh!
But then we do the podcast and it’s fun and then I eat solid food on Saturday and spend Sunday with Jack. And it all seems okay again. Moral of the story: cleanses are for douches.
Precious Chong is a writer and actor living in Toronto. She’s also a professional stilt walker and daughter of cult movie hero Tommy Chong. Her weekly podcast with fellow comedian Melissa Story is called “The Story with Chong,” and you can download it here.