Overreacting to my sons’ reaction


Today, on a normal drive with R and E, a little birdie’s world changed, and I got a lesson in perspective.  The birdie swooped and swerved to avoid an oncoming car and unfortunately flew straight at my hood.  I tried to stop, I tried to steer away, but I hit the poor little birdie.  I think I heard it chirp a loud chirp, and I saw some feathers fly and flutter down around my car like the tears that were about to stream down my cheeks . . . I looked behind me and didn’t see a bird on the road, which meant one of two things:  either he flew away – maybe I bumped him just a little and he was ok! – or he was squashed on the front of my car.  This all seemed like slow motion but happened so quickly, and I realized shortly after that I had let out a guttural wail, a sound I had never heard come out of my own body before, and I was saying over and over, “No, no, no, that was horrible” as I cringed at the thought of having hurt an animal.

Then I looked in my rear view mirror again and saw my kids smirking.
“Heartless,” I thought.  Had I gone so wrong in raising my children that they thought it was funny to hurt an animal?  That what happened was at all humorous?  I firmly said “It’s NOT funny.  I hurt an animal.  It was an accident, but still, I hurt him, and that makes me feel so sad.  We treat animals with kindness . . .”

Laughter.  Now my blood was beginning to boil.  The kids had moved beyond smirking to full-on laughter.   I shouted louder, “It’s NOT funny.  How could you think this is funny?  We treat animals with kindness . . .”

“It’s ok,” said R.
“That’s not what we’re laughing at,” said E.

Oh?  “Then what’s so funny?” I asked, realizing they had possibly moved beyond the unfortunate incident.

“You screamed like a girl, Mommy.”

Indeed I did.  (I’m female)

To that birdie, I’m so sorry.  To my sons, I’m so glad you laughed at the sound I made and not at the situation.  I was silly to think you could have had cruelty in your heart.  I’m so glad you said “It’s ok, Mommy.  It was an accident.”  And I’m so glad you were brave enough to look at the front of the car for me to confirm there was no hurt bird on it, because you knew I would have thrown up if I had done it myself.  Different vantage points, different perspectives, reactions to different situations that are parts of a whole.  Boys and girly-girl M.O.B.s make a great team.

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