Yesterday was a low point in the history of my parenting performance. I inadvertently became my father, and I didn't even see it coming.
I was making sure the kids were to not plug/unplug cords from my computer, I got a little emotional. It started about a month ago when I went to plug my USB thumb drive into the front of my computer in the morning. Dark, I fumbled around trying to get it aligned. Flipped it over the standard 3 times, plus a couple more for good measure. By then I had to turn on a light, and witnessed both the front USB ports completely broken. I was pretty mad, but chalked it up to the computer's placement relative to the high-back chair...my fault. At that point I decided to plug all the necessary cords into the 5 or so ports on the back of the computer, and run the cables along the desk. And, I figured, since we have a zillion micro USB, and iPod cables all over the house, these cables would never need to be removed from the PC.
So yesterday, I am attempting to make sure all the kids understand that the cords need not be removed from the computer. (This is a result of fear that more USB ports will be broken in the future.) By the time I got over to Carly I had become more annoyed at the potential of broken USB ports, so my voice was probably too assertive. She claimed I was "yelling at her". I clarified that I wasn't "yelling". She reiterated her position that I was yelling at her. And before any rational thought could enter my mind, I yelled at the top of my lungs, "DO YOU WANT ME TO YELL?!"
I failed on so many levels. On the surface I didn't think it was that big of a deal. I neglected to consider the other 3 people in the room that had absolutely nothing to do with the situation, yet bore the brunt of the attack. My youngest daughter (11) and her friend (8), as well as Carly's friend (11) witnessed the asshole buried inside a pleasant exterior.
Of course it didn't take long before Laura came down to assess the situation. At that time, I realized my job was done, and trotted upstairs, mentioning that I had given instruction of the difference between "yelling" and "not yelling". Shortly thereafter Laura came upstairs to tell me that I freaked out the 8 year old, and Carly's friend was crying. I decided to take a few minutes in solitude to reflect.
After about 30 minutes I came to a few conclusions, with the most significant being what Laura & I have been trying to build (a safe place where our kids, and their friends could hang out, and be loved) was threatened. It could even be torn down in an instant, with a stupid lack of judgment such as this. Carly would likely remember this event for life. Her friend (who's not my kid!) would likely remember me as the father that can blow up at any moment without warning.
I made what seemed like feeble attempts to apologize to everybody. I mentioned that I had a lack of judgment. Now I feel like this apology isn't going to repair the damage I've surely caused. I need to reiterate my feelings of regret, and possibly even promise never to do such a thing again. It was uncalled for, and unnecessary.