Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Hard and Soft (04/23/09)
TITLE: Urinare Interruptus
By Diana Smith
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Darrin rounded the corner and skidded to a halt. “Tommy hit me Mom! Right here, see? It left a mark! I need ice and a bandaid and maybe CPR!” His plump cheeks were flushed and the telltale noise of wrestling boys tickled at her memory. Here we go again.
“Let me see.” Standing up and leaning over the sink, she twisted her neck around to examine the injury. A slightly red blotch covered his sweaty upper right arm; a decent bruise would likely follow. “Were you two wrestling?” The same old interrogation.
“Yeah, but Mom…”
“Now wait a minute Darrin, you know that when you wrestle your older brother, you’re just asking for it. That’s the whole thing about wrestling – for some reason you guys find it fun to see how close you can get to hurting each other without actually getting in trouble for hurting each other. I’m sorry kid, but I’m all out of sympathy.” He was bouncing in protest, one hand protecting the injury, mouth open for his rebuttal.
“But MOM!” He bellowed halfway between a whine and a wail. “He hit me HARD!”
Hands on her hips and head cocked to one side, she spat back. “How hard?”
Darrin’s buzz-cut head cocked in confusion. “Huh?”
“I said – How. Hard. Did. He. Hit. You?”
“Really, really, super hard! Didn’t you see the mark?” Hazel eyes wide in astonishment, he offered the evidence again.
She shot a look upwards, swallowing a bitter mouthful of impatience and exhaustion. What do I do Lord? A desperate lightning prayer sparked. I’ve told them a hundred times not to hit, smack, kick or scratch. What else do I say? Should I just let them beat each other into oblivion? Ugh. Wisdom, please Lord.
“Hit me as hard as he hit you.” Her arm shot out daringly.
“Wha...???” Tommy’s body, formerly pressed against the hallway wall, appeared in the room. Darrin stepped back in disbelief, just missing his brother’s toes.
“Hit me as hard as he hit you. Come on, wallop me.” The two boys exchanged a look, certain that their mother had finally gone nuts. She was always nagging them NOT to hit, and now she comes up with this? Cashews and peanuts for sure.
Doubt tugged at her. “Was it so hard that you can’t even do it to your mother?”
A light went on in Darrin’s eyes. “Yeah! Yeah, it was so hard that I wouldn’t wanna hurt you. You being a girl and all.”
Tommy huffed and puffed. “Come on! You had me in a headlock – how else could I get out? Besides it was way too soft.” He took a step towards her. “I’ll do it Mom, I’ll hit you.”
The moment to retreat had come. She was in way too deep and a protest sputtered out. “No, no, no - that’s not the deal boys. I was only trying to… well, I was just…”
Matching wicked grins splashed across their faces - flint against a rock. Her fists curled and her blood pressure pounded. Angry at herself, frustrated at them and still only steps from the toilet, she teetered on the verge of explosion.
A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.. The proverb pushed through her fury and stilled her momentarily. Enough anger sloshed through her mind to drown them all. She took a few shallow breaths.
This is so hard Lord, she clenched her teeth. Give me gentle words, soft words, any words that aren’t laced with what I’m feeling right now.
“Brothers are supposed to love each other right?” The grins faded and they nodded slowly in unison.
“OK. Then hug each other. Now.” Two pairs of eyebrows shot up.
“That’s right - hug.” She wrapped her arms tightly around their shoulders. All three stood on the ceramic tiles, the reflection of their reluctant embrace shining in the mirror as she counted slowly to thirty.
“Thank you.” She stepped back and they leaped apart.
“Next time you hit each other, there’s going to be more hugging. And kissing. Got it?”
The fear in their eyes made her heart expand. “And stop wrestling when I’m on the toilet.”
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