OK, so I'm not Oprah

Nor am I Momastery or Pioneer Woman or any of those other bloggers who have actual readers who are not their relatives and who blog more than once a decade.  A big reason why I hardly ever blog anymore is that I am becoming less cranky.  My kids are starting to annoy me just a tiny bit less.  And it appears that I can't be creative or funny if I am not cranky.  Now I guess I'm going to have to start trying to be "inspirational" and give all the moms out there who are still cranky hope for the future.

Except that I apparently suck at being inspirational.  You may recall how just a couple blog posts ago (which, granted, was like 7 months ago in real time), I arrogantly surmised that I would become a better mother once my children had real, human problems, as opposed to the baby/toddler/celebrity variety, which basically amount to not getting exactly what is wanted the exact nanosecond it is wanted, or else it is a showy display of having a problem when there is none in order to determine how long it will take a caregiver to run screaming out of the house.  By that standard, I am not a good mother.  But again, I had hoped that I could be the kind of psychotherapist/life coach/mentor mother that Oprah is for all her minions and that when my child faced a real challenge, I could expertly see her through it.

Well, pride cometh before a fall, and the fall in this case came in the form of a post-tennis-lesson-meltdown, or rather two identical post-tennis-lesson-meldowns, neither of which resulted in effective Oprah-parenting, despite having two chances to succeed.  I know what you are saying--at least I know what those of you who actually witnessed my pathetic attempts at hand-eye coordination in PE class are saying--why in heavens name is a child of yours taking tennis lessons? If it's a futile endeavor you're looking for, why not just keep reorganizing your kids toys or trying new acne treatments?  That's exactly what I said, but Charlotte somehow became seized with the game around the age of 2 and has not stopped begging for lessons since.  I could tell her, "Charlotte, I have news for you, genetically speaking, you are lucky you can walk in a somewhat straight line, and I think your playing tennis may push the boundaries of human potential to the point where the universe caves in on itself," or I could enroll her in lessons and let her come to that conclusion herself.  Much less cruel.  Or so I thought.

The first few lessons went OK.  All the kids sucked.  But then the other kids stopped sucking so badly, and she suddenly realized, wow, I'm actually bad at something.  This was probably the first time in her life this had become so apparent to her, since we are more of an "indoor" family that sits around telling her how awesome and smart she is.  In any case, you might say she did not take the news of her non-awesomeness well.   You could also say that Obamacare's rollout was less than seamless or that Sarah Palin is not a foreign policy expert.  In all cases, gross exaggerations.  When I say Charlotte melted down, I literally mean she MELTED DOWN, like she became a puddle of tears on the floor that more closely resembled the Wicked Witch of the West after Dorothy threw water on her than an actual human child.  For an entire hour, I helplessly patted her on the back and responded to her wildly unfounded, self-flagellating claims, which included such classics as, "Everybody hates me!"  "I'm not good at anything!"  and the ever-popular "I can't go on!"  Nothing I said or did made any difference at all, despite my best Oprah impression.  In fact, it seemed to just make her more angry when I told her she had inherent value as a person that had nothing to do with whether or not she could play tennis and the key is to discover how to use the gifts she did have in order to fulfill her God-given purpose. After that bombed (how could it?), I was not even going to attempt to tell her to try, try again, so I just told her she could quit.  That only resulted in about 20 minutes of her screaming, "I quit!!!"  Clearly my presence at that point was simply redundant.  What's worse, by the next week, she had decided she actually did NOT want to quit.  I was so very proud until the end of the lesson, when we all got to repeat the entire drama again.   There hasn't been a sequel that true to the original since Hot Shots Part Deux.  Nor one as lame, because I bombed out completely for a second time.  And, again, she does not want to quit.  Darn.

Even more disturbing, as I was recounting all this to Kevin, it dawned on me that I tend to display this same kind of quickly-passing, dramatic overreaction to events that has no long-term impact on actual choices or behavior.  Just ask Kevin about the time a billboard for Hooters airlines sent me into an absolute tirade about the exploitation of women, which was followed by me, about an hour later, sitting cheerfully in the booth of a Hooters restaurant, watching the OU-TX game on the nearest TV screen we could find in the vicinity (hey, they do have good wings).  Or, when a dissertation committee member told me days before my scheduled defense that I would have to rewrite the entire thing (granted, not a small matter), I proceed to have the mother of all adult fits, with plenty of loud proclamations of my life being over, followed by a year of diligently going to the Library of Congress every day to finish my dissertation.  I may or may not have been seen crying into my laptop by fellow patrons.  But I finished. So, as I'm telling Kevin about Charlotte, he asked what helps me when I have my own meltdowns and suggested that maybe I just do the same thing with Charlotte.  And I look at him blankly.  I have no idea how to help me during my meltdowns. No idea.

The bottom line being this:  I have no idea what I am doing as a parent even when my child is behaving exactly like me.  That's like a comedian not even being able to make himself laugh or an economist who can't manage his own finances or a politician who can't lie to himself or Oprah unable to live her best life.  Or something.  It's super lame whatever it is.

I may not be the best mother, but I will say that I am an exceedingly good predictor of celebrity journalism.  See that blog post down there that predicted the coverage of Princess Kate's post-baby bounce back?  Spot on.  They just needed a picture of her breastfeeding in a bikini, and it would have been perfect.


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