Saturday, March 30, 2013

Grand Master Complainer

My son Henry just turned 7 a few weeks ago.  His personal history is something out of a Lifetime Movie Network special.  I think most of you all know some part of the story.   Suffice it to say that his arrival on this earth and into our arms was nothing short of a miracle. It still IS a miracle.  Too bad I forget this sometimes. I remember it now.  

Trust me, I do.

His Tae Kwon Do teacher, however, apparently considered him to be a burden and troublesome in class.  How do I know this?

Well, I pulled her aside one evening recently to say Hi and ask how she thought the kids were doing and when would they have their next belt test, etc.  It was at that point that she just melted down and said that (mostly Henry but) both my boys were horrible and unteachable. "They're disruptive and I'm afraid the other parents are going to complain soon," she continued.  My knees buckled and I caught myself as I almost fainted because there had been no indication of any problems. I've been sitting mat-side twice a week for six months.  None.  Not one word.   She asked me, “so is there something I should know?”  I said, “something you should know!? I told your husband Henry’s entire history. That’s why we joined here because he assured me that you handled children with much greater impairment than Henry's!”  
Indeed, I had given her husband, (the other grand master flash-drive) the entire rundown of Henry’s learning challenges and sensory processing issues before we began. The only reason we joined was because he assured me that “Master Wife works with kids with ADHD and autism all the time.”   Henry doesn’t have quite the level of impairment present in those conditions. His issues look slightly different.  He just learns more physically because he has trouble processing aural information and commands.  She said to me, “well, that would have been nice to know up front.” I looked at her in total disbelief and informed her that I had indeed shared everything relevant with her husband "up front" before signing the paperwork.  She shook her head silently while looking at the ground as if she were saying that it was my fault she didn’t know this.

She even asked if there was “something she should know about Elliot, too.” Let me tell you what, it’s times like the instant after she made that comment that it’s really good to be a Christian.  Without the guiding principles of my faith, I would have laid her (b.a.) out on her squishy little mat, black belt or no black belt, just with sheer force of indomitable motherly will and my laser-beam-shooting eyeballs.

Standing there silently in front of me with her terse lips shaking her head, she never once apologized for the interruption in communication on her side, never apologized for her inability to handle the situation, for never having pulled me aside to tell me of her challenges with him/them. Nothing.  As we spoke that evening, she regarded both of my kids with the kind of contempt one usually reserves for inmates.  Contempt. They were 6 1/2, for goodness sake.  I then asked, “So how long have you felt this way?” She replied, “pretty much from the beginning.” To which I said, “so you mean to say that you have not liked my kids for 6 months and I had to drag that information out of you?” You know what she said to that? She replied, “yep” and then turned on the heels of her little soft sole-less shoes and just huffed off like a pouty little stinkpot.

I talked to my 2 friends with kids in the same class in the days following that discussion.  They were as slack-jawed as I was. Both of them commented on how fun and nice the boys were to theirs and other kids they both said how well and quickly they came onto the mat after pulling their cards without even being asked while I parked the car. They both said they saw NOTHING at all in those six months that would have led them to believe that they were any different than the other kids.  I begged them to tell me if they saw anything that I was missing.  They reassured me that a) it wasn't them who complained and b) they thought she was on crack.  Seriously, they were as perplexed as I was by the whole story, the whole waiting-six-months-to-tell-me, the invisible disruptions, etc.  Flummoxed.

My whole point to the story is that at first I actually listened to her. Then, after I harshly reprimanded the monkeys for being, well, 6 1/2 year old monkeys, the truth of it all dawned on me. Enough, I said to myself. My job is to love my kids.  If she can’t handle them, then she’s not good enough to teach them. They go to a regular public school where they learn and grow. They go to Kumon, they take soccer, they can swim, play tennis, etc.  Yes, they are a bit on the wild side.  However, as I’ve said before, my crap-ass parenting is not their fault.  I’m doin’ my best.  They're doing their best.  We're all trying hard.  Also, their particular dynamic and the bizarre 5-month age difference that exists between them is so incredibly rare, that it is impossible to say what the effects are on their behavior and development.   But it is what it is.  That’s what we got to work with, lady. I'm not trading them in for different models so...

...Deal with it.

Listen, I didn’t want to hastily depart from this endeavor and send the message to the kids that quitting is the answer.  But in the end,  I decided that they do not have to take their marching orders from somebody who 1) doesn’t believe in them and who 2) doesn’t value them and 3) doesn’t even like them.  We have other options in town.  What I truly think is that she didn’t like me and she’s taking it out on the kids. She would sneer at me. It would visibly pain her to smile at me when I walked in there.  I have no idea why.  I was always pleasant, respectful and courteous.  Like Brene Brown's friend says, "Don't try changin' the haters. You ain't the Jackass Whisperer."

Nope, I’m not perfect at being a parent.   Hell, I’m not even good most of the time.  But you know what? We all need a champion and it should, at the very least, be our mothers.  

Happy Easter Boys! Mama loves her wild-a** monkeys. (I don't think I can cuss in the same sentence as 'Easter').  

Ps. For all you Catholics out there, don't forget to do a few Hail Marys to the one and only perfect mother.  

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