Dan and I have a generally good relationship. We banter and tease and tweak each other a lot. For example, this morning he said to me, “Why don’t you make a big jug of sweet tea for us to have on hand in the fridge?”
“My mom made the best sweet tea,” I said. “I never learned how to make it in big batches like she did; I just make it one cup at a time. I wish I’d learned how to fry chicken like Mom did, too.”
“All women know how to cook,” Dan said.
“Oh, what, you think we have some inbred instinct or this special gene that makes us able to cook?”
“You do,” he said. “You’ve got the Tanya gene.” This set me laughing loudly because my middle name is Jean.
So we go back and forth like that frequently, but sometimes, he crosses a line and his teasing takes a hurtful turn. He crossed that line recently. I can’t remember exactly what his remark was, but I know it made me feel very badly. I didn’t say anything, didn’t scold him or call him out on it, but I stewed about it for a couple of days. I decided when I calmed down I would broach the subject with him and let him know exactly how I felt – and how thin was the line he was walking.
So one evening as we were watching TV together – a rarity, since he is always hanging out with his buddies – I turned to him, remote in hand, and said, “You know, you really hurt my feelings the other day.” He laughed. I guess I did look a little less than severe, shaking the silver remote at him. But that only made me feel more disrespected and determined to make my point.
“You laugh now,” I said, restraining myself from throwing the remote at him, “but one day, you’re gonna say the wrong thing in the wrong way to me. And I will be through with you. Hear me? I will be through.”
It’s happened before. A former Facebook friend posted something that just rubbed me the wrong way, and I unfriended him. An ex-boyfriend left a nasty message on my answering machine that clicked something in me, something that gave me the courage to turn to him and say calmly, “You have got to go.” I had been looking for a way to kick him to the curb, and that message opened the door for me. No hysterics, no fear, no regrets, nothing but a sure conviction in my very soul that the relationship was over and I was strong enough to relinquish a load that was wearing me down and do it with dignity and determination. I’m very proud of myself for doing that.
I don’t actually hope a day will come when I look at my son and say: “We are through.” As I said, we have a pretty good relationship, and he actually considers me to be his best friend. But it could happen, and you can’t say I haven’t warned him. I think behind his laugh as I was speaking so sincerely, waggling that remote at him – I think there was a hint of, “You know what? Tanya’s not joking.” No. Tanya’s not. I don’t have that gene.