Martial Arts and the “Real-Time” Mothering Failure

I have decided that “real-time” parenting is just too difficult. I would like a playback reel, a coach….maybe the SuperNanny. I mean, if split-second decision making was in line with my personality, I would have become an emergency room doc, not a primary care physician who sends the sick ones off to the hospital.

And I’m pretty sure that Micah is going to be the one kid that I never figure out – and therefore keep making bad in-the-moment decisions. We worked hard the past couple weeks on a “star chart” to earn his gi uniform for Martial Arts class. I was impressed –

The star chart...apparently got a little crumpled in my rant???

The star chart…apparently got a little crumpled in my rant???

we’ve never had a behavioral chart work before. He actually brushed his teeth in the morning. He put on his clothes without being asked. When he did a really kind thing (rare….but happened) to one of his brothers, he would look up at me with a great smile – and I would nod – and he’d run to the fridge and put a star on the chart. It was idyllic. So you know what that means.

We talked for days about finally getting the uniform at class on Wednesday. I even brought my big camera along. I was ready to be so proud. Yet, I strode out of the building in silence in front of him thirty minutes later….fuming and emotionally choked up with sadness.

He wouldn’t get out on the mat. He clung to my arm. He pretended like he was going to decide to out and join the class. The teachers cajoled him. I urged him. My friend encouraged him. But finally, I declared “you know, I would rather spend time with Noah and Seth and get to put Seth to bed, then to sit on this couch here with you.” And off we went.

I gave myself plenty of good pats on the back for remaining calm….and then Dragon Mommy reared her head the moment we were in the sound proof car! “What do you mean you don’t want to go to class? What was that all about? You worked so hard to earn your uniform and then you just sat there? What’s going on? What are you doing?!?” Now any parenting book will tell you that this method is 100% guaranteed to fail…..and I know that 100% as I talk….but it’s definitely more for my benefit to ramble on because clearly he’s not listening to me….until my rant turns to “I’m not going to pay money to sit there on a couch! I’m not going to pay money to sit around for flag football or soccer if this is what it’s going to be.”  Huh – had no idea that was such a powerful phrase. Mentioning his favorite sports sure got his attention.

Yes, not so proud of that moment. Frustration makes you do crazy things. I was ready to be proud of Micah. He was not ready for the excitement. I wasn’t ready to see that he was not ready. This kid is so complex, I go nuts trying to think through the psychology of it all (….afterwards ….). I think I get one piece figured out, he pulls out something else. I just don’t keep up so well in the real-time with him.

But still.

I was ready to be proud of you.  And you blew it.  You see, it’s all about me.

Me trying to figure you out.

Me wondering why you hide so much behind my skirt (which would make sense as a saying if I actually wore skirts).

Wondering how much do I push?

How much do I wait for you?

How do I encourage you?

How do I build your confidence but not self-centeredness?

How do we dance the joy of morning snow forts amidst the clash of evening wills?

How do we navigate the still waters and the crashing waves?

You push and I pull.

You pull and I push.

We win. We lose.

I haven’t figured this out yet….but I’m still here….for the next round.

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