Recently I’ve found out that the oldest of you has something inside you I like to refer to as “The Rage.”
All three of you might be afflicted with this thing that your mother would begrudge me for failing to mention “definitely comes from dad’s side of the family.” But at this point in time, I can only confirm that it’s you, Micah, who, carries this curse.
I call it “The Rage” because I feel like it deserves the respect given to a proper noun, and because it’s far from an issue with anger or bouts of emotional mania. It’s ever-present, close to the surface, and a constant companion that you’ll have to learn to reckon with.
I think Mark Ruffalo best described what co-habitating with “The Rage” is like in his take on Bruce Banner in Marvel’s The Avengers:
“I’m always angry” about sums it up. But here’s the thing- when “The Rage” takes over, you don’t have the awesome ability to turn into a giant green Hulk and smash life’s problems into the ground. Instead, you stay a frail, cute, squeezable six-year-old with glasses, a high-pitched voice and a head that you’re still working on growing into.
“The Rage” took you over the other day when you left the play area of a Carl’s Jr. to use the restroom, and accidentally fell in the toilet. The entire restaurant had their meals disturbed with your nightmarish screams of indignant despair. If you could have, you would have smashed that whole restaurant to bits. As we were politely asked to vacate the premises so you could continue your nuclear meltdown out of earshot of the restaurant’s patrons, I couldn’t help but laugh.
I know my laughter in the midst of your crisis may have hurt your feelings, but I promise I wasn’t laughing at you- well, it wasn’t ALL about you falling into a toilet and making noises I doubt many of those people had ever heard before- hahaha. OH MY GOD. THAT REALLY HAPPENED. Again, I’m sorry… it really wasn’t ALL about you. I was just remembering my reactionary bouts with “The Rage” from when I was your age.
Once, when I was just a tad older than you are now, I was in the neighbor’s driveway using their basketball hoop to practice my free throws. I was great at free throws (which is sort of a useless skill when you’re not good enough at anything else to warrant the playing time that would get you into a game so you could get fouled). All of the sudden, I was missing more than I usually did. Two misses in a row became three, and I could feel “The Rage” starting to surface. I tensed up, lost my composure and form, and three misses in a row quickly became six. After the seventh miss I grabbed the ball and slammed it against the pavement with all my might, only to have it bounce back up and (excuse the completely accurate and situationally appropriate language) knock-me-the-fuck-out. The neighbors found me taking a short nap in their driveway whilst bleeding from the nostrils. While I can laugh about it now, it wasn’t very funny at the time.
I have plenty of stories like that from my youth, where “The Rage” popped up and caused me to angrily embarrass myself. You’re not alone. The trick is to recognize the type of situations that bring that kind of emotion out of you and acknowledge that you’ve got a friend who will take the wheel if you allow yourself to let go. Sometimes though, an unexpected situation comes up, and you won’t be able to help the temporary monster you become. Things like falling in a Carl’s Jr. toilet.
Next time you literally, or figuratively find yourself stuck in a toilet and losing your damn mind, do what I do- look at the situation as if you were outside your own body, watching yourself act like a fool. You don’t just have my rage- you’ve also got my sense of humor. Any time I’m about to lose myself to The Rage over life’s little inconveniences, I picture myself getting knocked into next week by a ball that I wish Tom Brady had been around to deflate, and I laugh myself back into control. Let the Carl’s Jr. toilet do that for you. “The Rage” has, and will have, a lot of power in your life, but it’s got nothing on a little laughter and a lot of joy.