I have decided the crappiest feeling in the whole world is to realize you’ve done something as a parent that SUCKS.
You know, when you feel like the Octomom is morally superior to you. When you feel like Casey Anthony was more caring toward her child than you’ve been. When you feel like the universe is saying, “Everyone parents better than you do and your children will surely grow up to dismember small animals.”
(No. I am not given to hyperbole, and I am not being dramatic.)
Of course I’m talking about karate. And Jack. Sweet Jack.
(First shark week, now karate week. Everything has a theme these days.)
Anyway, when Whit and I got frustrated at the lack of participation and the tears, maybe we were a little tough on him. Not like beating-his-ass tough, but tough like, “You need to go back, you need to toughen up, you need to get through a class without crying to decide if you like it or not.” That's what we said.
We later discovered that apparently Jack heard, "You're a big crybaby and we will be so disappointed in you if you don't love karate."
We meant well, honestly. We wanted him to make a decision separate from his emotions. We didn’t want him to miss out on all of karate just because he needed some time to get adjusted.
So, dutiful Jack went back to karate. Dutiful Jack didn’t cry. Dutiful Jack listened and kicked and punched and tried not to look confused when everyone counted to ten in Japanese. Dutiful Jack smiled his little six-year-old, haggle-toothed smile and said, “I love it!”
We believed him; we didn't yet know the scope of the damage. So we thought, good! It worked! He's happy! We were right! Yea for me! Yea for Whit! Yea for Jack!
He went to another class yesterday. He clearly didn’t love it. He didn’t really like it. I could tell. Caroline could tell. The teachers could tell. A blind, deaf mutant could tell. A newborn could tell. A newborn mutant could tell.
Dutiful Jack said, “I love it!”
Then I entered the horribly awkward conversation of, “I know you don’t love it, you can tell me you don’t love it, I want you to be happy, I’m sorry if I made you feel you had to love it, let’s just end this now.”
Chin trembling. “But I love it.”
“No, you don’t.”
Tears welling up in his eyes. “Yes, I do.”
Damnit all and SHIT. First I pressured him to love it, now I’m pressuring him to not love it, and he’s like a well-trained parrot. So I’m saying what I think he wants to hear and he’s saying what he thinks I want to hear and the whole thing is a colossal train wreck.
This is what I wish had happened. I wish Jack had tried it and not liked it. And I wish I was a normal, non-psychotic mother and I had just said, “Okay, honey, glad you tried it. It had to be tough getting through that class when you obviously weren’t comfortable.”
But noooooo I had to screw the whole thing up. Now the word “karate” makes me break out in hives. And it kind of makes Jack twitch.
Regrets. As Tracy Jordan said, they’re only useful in horseshoes and handbags. (And now I’m quoting 30 Rock. The regrets are piling up by the minute.)
Ugh. Bad mommy. It’s no wonder I drink.