You are cordially invited to my pity party!
Let’s talk about Tough Mom, and how she subsequently became cry-baby-in-public Mom:
Without getting off on a tangent, I had a Tiger Mom and for the most part thought I was, too. Until I realized that my tiger mothering has been pretty diluted by growing up with a Western/modern point of view. However, compared to most parents that I’ve encountered, I seem to be pretty strict and non-permissive. I do everything I can to give my kids the things they need (first) and the things they want (second).
After our winter/Christmas break, Josh had been on a real tear of assholey behavior: mean to his sister, arguing about everything, the ever inflammatory silent treatment, refusing to do his schoolwork and he even threw a temper tantrum in the middle of the Wal-Mart parking lot. This build up of shit behavior culminated in one of the worst punishments ever: no green belt test for Tae Kwon Do. Yes, worse than when I took Halloween away.
The worst part is that Josh can be so good. He’s very much a first born son and is fairly responsible and mature for his age. So after the dust settled, he understood why he was not allowed the privilege to test at the beginning of January and would have to wait until the next cycle in March. He is beginning to understand which lines not to cross and which ones can be tested. And that when Mom lays down a punishment, she means it.
Yesterday the kids got their results back and had their in-class belt ceremony. His friend got to test and he didn’t. His friend is moving to a different class on a different day and Josh isn’t.
He wasn’t sad about not getting to test for his green belt, he was sad that he wasn’t going to see his friend for the next two months.
The rational part of me knows that it was his behavior that lost him the opportunity to test. That he had been warned that the option to test was something he could lose. I justify in my head things like “at least I don’t beat him with a stick like my Mom did to me”.
But fuck being rational, I feel like shit. Watching my baby cry while sitting on the bleacher trying to put his shoes on was more than enough to make me cry. His master instructor coming to remind him that it is not his technique but his behavior at home that kept him from testing made me cry. Her reminder to me that what I did was the right thing made me cry. Footnote: he refuses to talk about the green belt thing now, and didn’t even mention it in his journal. I don’t know if this is a good thing (he’s totally over it) or a bad thing (he’s internalizing this and now we can isolate the tipping point for when his life was ruined).