It’s official. I have Zen envy. You see, E goes to karate every week. He seems to enjoy it, although to be fair it can be difficult to tell as it seems he has the same inherent dislike of organised games and fun as I have. Couple this with the fact he is likely to stop listening to the instructor and start wondering if he can fit all ten of his fingers in his mouth at once, or if he can turn round quick enough to catch a glimpse of the back of his head in the mirror, and you have a recipe for indifference bordering on the utterly disengaged. After all, this was the boy that stood in the middle of the tennis court during one tennis session, as twenty other kids diligently practised their ball control, licking his tennis racket. Although it was raining, and he probably was thirsty…
But I love him going to karate. Mainly because it is probably the longest time in his entire week that he spends under strict discipline, because no one, repeat no one, mucks about when the instructor is in the room. (Just to be clear, the fact that me and a friend drop our sons into the lesson then piss off down the coffee shop for a natter has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I love karate so much. Nothing. At all.)
There is a name for the instructor. Sensei? Sensee? I know it sounds a little like something that should be the exotic one in the range of Lynx deodorants, but I can never quite remember. Ah well. Let’s just call him Zenman. This man exudes zenness. (I may have made that word up, but let’s go with it). He fixes parents with his steely blue-eyed stare, and cheque books open all of a flutter and any protestations about paying for lessons not attended dry up in nervous throats. Children, on hearing his voice, will pause mid-fight and line up, the very epitome of obedience, awaiting their next instruction. I tis truly amazing. And, if I am being honest, slightly sickening.
I want some zenness. I want to be a Zenmum. I don’t want to shout at my children like a fishwife in the middle of the street. I’m not even that keen on fish. We had friends round the other day, and the kids were going a little wild in the lounge. “DON’T JUMP ON THE SOFA!” I yelled from the kitchen, as I caught a glimpse of an airborne foot and heard the distinct sound of a sofa groaning in pain. “Oh, I am glad you scream at your kids,” my friend said. “I feel better now I’ve heard you.”
Technically, I don’t think I screamed. Screaming is for people who can’t control their kids. Mine was definitely more of a shout. Because I can control my kids. I think they are just a bit hard of hearing. Well. It may have been just a tiny bit screamy…
So, at a recent karate lesson, confronted once again by Zenman’s quite frankly inhuman control of a bunch of young kids, I decide to change. I decide to get myself a bit of that zen. I am sure there is enough to go round, and Zenman certainly won’t miss a little bit of his. He’s too busy not being annoyed by highly annoying kids to miss just a smidge.
I enter the hall just as the lesson ends, which is the cue for fifteen kids who have all spent the last sixty minutes practising ultimate emotional and physical control to go absolutely ape-shit. Zenman glides to the side, seemingly oblivious to the three hundred-odd decibels of child-generated noise. I stand at the side too, and decide not to scream for my son to come over and get his shoes on. I will do as Zenman does, and summon him here with nothing more than a strong, clear voice and willpower. I will have to do without the white karate suit that exposes acres of chest, as I fear Zenman carries off that particular look in a way that I couldn’t.
“Come here please,” I say, trying to catch E’s eye. He barrels past, arms flailing, in pursuit of his friend.
“Come here and get your shoes on please,” I say again, a little louder. I will not shout. I am a Zenmum. I am calm personified. My son totally ignores me.
I take a deep breath. Do not shout, I urge myself. I am aware than Zenman is close by. I start to sweat a little, with the pressure of not giving into my urge to shout for my son and the irritation at the little voice in my head saying ‘You know he thinks you can’t control your son. You know he knows you are about to shout. He is zen. You, on the other hand, are about as Zen as an angry wasp with arse ache. You couldn’t do bloody Zen if you were lying comatose in a white box. You wouldn’t know zen if it came up to you, bathed you in an inordinate sense of calm and Om’ed all over your face. You are about as Zen as…” ALRIGHT. I get the fucking message.
“Come here NOW!” I say. I don’t shout it, but I do say it very, very, very loudly. E looks over at me. Bingo. He then turns and runs in the opposite direction. Perhaps I should just go home without him?
“E, your mum wants you,” says Zenman in a voice so quiet that even I struggle to hear him. Immediately, E stops mid-run and sprints over to us.
Oh good. My humiliation is complete. As I grumpily shove trainers onto the wiggling feet of my son, I make a decision. I don’t want to be a Zenmum. I will embrace the anti-zen. I will shout when I need to, and swear quietly under my breath when my children wind me up, and I will get annoyed when I have to repeat a request to ‘clean your teeth please’ eight times. And having decided that, I am at once calm and relaxed. I may never hear the sound of one hand clapping, but quite frankly, anyone who needs to clap with one hand either needs surgery or more bloody mates. Meanwhile, you will find me over here, revelling in the noise of one voice shouting ‘I WILL NOT TELL YOU AGAIN. STOP JUMPING ON THAT SOFA NOW.”
STOP PRESS!!! News just in! Is this sounding dramatic enough yet? No? Okay… man crushed to death by rampaging hedgehog! Okay, maybe not. Listen, dear blog reader (and may I just say at this juncture that that colour really suits you?) I have a favour to ask. I have been shortlisted for The Dog’s Doodah’s UK Funniest Blog award 2014. I know. It must have been a lean year on the nomination front. Here’s the thing. I shall just come out and ask. Could you vote for Mothering Frights? I would be awfully grateful. Just pop on over to http://www.thedogsdoodahs.com/funny-blogs-2014.aspx – it takes only about 30 seconds, perhaps a minute if you are trying to eat a Jammy Dodger at the same time. Thank you. No really. Thanks. I am touched. (Not in that way).