Is there any feeling more frustrating than watching your child refuse to participate?
Seriously. It sounds so stupid. Who would get worked up about that? Who cares if your kid wants to sit on the sidelines/in the corner/on your lap/wrapped around your leg and just watch all the friends and fun swirling around him?
Me! I get worked up (surprise, surprise). And so do many of you.
I remember one mom turning purple on the soccer sidelines when her three year old sat resolutely beside her and refused to put one little toe on the field. My sister-in-law showed up for a daycare performance, multiple cameras at the ready, only to have her adorable daughter spot her, cry, and run (permanently) to her. I have taken Jack to many birthday parties and had to extricate myself from his grip just to free him to enjoy the party. It is a very intense form of parenting hell to witness a complete and total, obstinate lack of participation. (In which, by the way, YOU look like the idiot when you lose your mind and try to force the participation. It’s totally a no-win situation. The kid looks like a moron or you do.)
Most recently, it’s karate. Jack is a born karate chopper. He chops at everything in the house...he stacks pillows from the couch and does running, jumping kicks to knock them down. He karate chops my book as I’m reading it, which is a level of annoying you can’t fathom. He chops at the dog, his sister, the guinea pig, the wall. He asks me if it’s okay if he tries to break a glass coffee table with a kick. (I didn’t say he was smart.)
So over the weekend, Whit and I did what any normal parents would do – we took him to a karate studio. (Store? Factory?) He was expected to try out a class.
“First, I want to watch.” Okaaaayyy...
Then...”That sign says I can have a private lesson. I want a private lesson.”
The teacher took him into a room and gave him a private lesson. He loved the poses and the kicking and the crackly paper. Then she said, “Okay, let’s get you in uniform and join the class.”
He looked at us with panic in his eyes. We nodded, encouragingly. Uniform! Yeah! Class! Wahoo!
He went out into the class (WHERE THERE ARE THREE YEAR OLD CHILDREN KICKING ASS). And he started to cry.
Why? Well, alternately because he was “nervous” or the class was “for preschoolers” or he “didn’t know anyone” or “everyone was better at it” or “everyone was looking” – no real reason. He just didn’t want to be out there.
The teacher put her arm around him. He cried harder.
(Come on, lady, where’s the tough love?? You’re a karate teacher. Yell “hi ya!” and get in your fighting stance. Air kick. That’ll surprise him into action.)
Whit and I stood in the office, frustrated beyond belief. JACK! We wanted to yell. You like karate! You want to learn more karate! This is where they teach karate! WHAT’S THE FREAKING PROBLEM?????
He cried his way through the rest of the class. It was so painful to watch.
We went home. No karate. That’s it. Over. We will give you the gift of NO KARATE. EVER. So please stop crying, because you never have to go back.
“I loved karate class. Will you sign me up?”
You’ve GOT to be kidding me.