What a "conniption fit" feels like

Shower time, two nights ago. I’m in the shower. I’ve turned over Babycakes, who is being dressed by her father in the back bedroom. Will is on the toliet, doing whatever he can to delay getting into the shower. Not for any real reason, Just Because.

Finally, it’s been too long. My requests for him to get in have been blown off or given lame excuses; no more will be tolerated. I open the shower door. “Will, it’s time. Get into the shower now.” He looks up at me with a slack, relaxed face. It is obvious he sees no need to hurry.


And there it was. No drama with it, no capital, no bolding, no italics. Just “no.”

I’ve heard tell of when parents break. They get pushed too far and the demands on them culminate into one moment where they launch into an uncontrollable rage. For me, this usually materializes in a voice that I didn’t know I had — one that sounds a bit like the monster “Zhoul” in Ghostbusters (you remember the one: “There is no Diana, only ZHOUL.”) This voice rumbles up my ribcage and pounds through my throat, emphasizing in hard consonants the terrible things that will occur if my words are not obeyed RIGHT NOW. The voice is so effective, I don’t need to say much. Things HAPPEN with the voice.

But today, the voice didn’t come. I held it in, trying to maintain the composure that I’m told it is Most Important to have in These Situations. Instead, to my surprise, something else happened.

Right after that calm little “no” ventured out of Will’s lips, so gently, as if putting a toe into a pool of water of unknown temperature, just after that little rebuttal, in that first moment of pause — my head began to shake on my shoulders. And then, suddenly, my head began to spin. (I know what you are thinking, but I promise: I Am Not Making This Up.) Around and around it swirled in circles, my eyes going large, blinking to accommodate the 360 degrees of bathroom I was taking in with each rotation. I was completely out of my body; it was an unworldly experience. So much so, that I was convinced I was under the control of Another Being — I began to worry if I’d suddenly be vomiting pea soup ala The Exorcist. But just as I had that thought, I heard at loud “POP!” And just like that, my head stopped spinning and slowly rested back on my shoulders, shaking as it regained balance.

I blinked. Then I reached over, plucked Will up by the tops of his arms and plopped him in the shower.