The fan in the dressing room is bent and rotates all fucked up. I'm sitting in bed, looking at it, and it's a whirlpool into the past. Why is the fan bent? Because I got angry at my son. I didn't throw him into the fan or anything. Just a series of events ended up there, because I got angry.
We have scars from that (isolated) incident all around the house. The guest room has jagged gashes around the lock. The bathroom window was wrenched off its hinges. All because my son got angry, and I got angry as well. Anger is opening the door to chaos. Who knows where it will end up.
In our case, this was the literal problem. We couldn't open the door. I put him in the guest room for a time out and stepped outside because I couldn't take the screaming. Frankly, because I wanted him to 'cry it out'. I was being a dick. Then he turned the latch, and locked himself in. Then, of course, he couldn't get out. Showed me.
I went frantically looking for the keys while nearby construction workers tried to jimmy the lock, I went upstairs, looking for the spare keys. I got a ladder and climbed to the storage cupboards, opening them while the fan was on. They're at the same level, and SLAM. Bent blade, lucky fingers, squeaky fan for life.
Did I think that my own impatience and anger with my child would end up here, with a fucked up fan near the ceiling? Nope. Chaos is a splatter. Who knows where it ends up.
So here I am, sitting in bed, watching the fan do a demented wobble around its axis and remembering this incident from over a year ago. That incident is scarred into the body of our house. Then I look down at my arm. I have scars there as well.
I have a fat, angry scar on my right arm. I gave it to myself. Not self-harm, just self-defeating. Early in marriage I was arguing with my wife and—in characteristically inane rage—punched right through a window. I don't know what my point was here, or how it was supposed to be made. I don't even remember what we were fighting about. Probably food.
I do remember looking down and seeing a two-inch blade of glass embedded in my arm. And the blood. I pulled it out in shock and we went to the hospital. We still fought in the hospital, all hushed pouting and passive aggression. They stitched it up all shitty and now I have this shitty scar for life. It bothered me at first, but now I'm thankful. I tell the kids the truth about it. This was a consequence of anger. That they should try and be better than me.
I look at my son and I sometimes see the same emotions, just completely unmoderated. He will flip his shit if something doesn't go right. I also flip my shit, but usually silently, behind my eyes. I'm not an angry person, in the sense that I rarely express anger (I'm telling you two isolated incidents, quite out of character), I surpress anger all the time. I think we all get angry, we just deal with it in different ways. Adults, I think, have the same internal reactions as a child, we just control them. Sorta.
Raising children I realize that we are children. If someone cuts in front of me in traffic, I am a screaming toddler inside. I am enraged. I just control it (sorta). The adult brain is really just a suppression layer on top of a screaming inner child. Children don't have this, so parents do it for them. We are their external emotional regulation system. They wear their heart on the outside.
We calm them down, scold them, or ignore. In many ways this scolding or soothing voice of the parent becomes the inner voice of the child. My wife still hears her parents disappointment in her own internal monologue. She gets inner moral strength from them as well. I think we all have this to some degree. Children do not always listen, but after a while the parents voice goes inside and starts to speak. You can reject or accept this, you can therapize out of it, but to some degree it's always there.
Watching ceiling fans, I think about the externality of anger, the scars that it leaves, the way that we moderate it within our children and fail to moderate it within ourselves. I think about the scars I've made and I want better for my children. I want to help kickstart a better voice for them. Everybody wants better for their children, a better life, a better circumstances. What I want for them is this. To be able to close the door to the chaos of anger. To be able to get out of that scary room, all by themselves.