I thought all those ‘What to Expect’ books I read back when I was pregnant had totally prepared me for parenting – But as it turns out, not one of them devotes so much as a paragraph to the scalp-tingling, fire-breathing, white hot rage every mom experiences when her precious, perfect child is…. REJECTED.
Before having kids, I would never have thought this would be an issue—I have, after all, personally faced rejection many, many, MANY times in my life, and I have come to accept the fact that it’s inevitable. I can’t win them all. I won’t win them all. I am at peace with that.
Turn one of my kids down, though, for anything, really, and I’m READY TO THROW DOWN— This is especially pathetic because my children have not been noticeably fazed yet by any of the rejections they’ve experienced so far.
I WILL NEVER FORGET AND I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE, DAMMIT, AND YOU WILL TOTALLY LIVE TO REGRET NOT ADMITTING MY KID INTO YOUR SUMMER ACADEMIC PROGRAM FOR VERY ESPECIALLY BRIGHT CHILDREN, YOU MEALY-MOUTHED, PEA-BRAINED DEGENERATES.
Uhhh. Where were we?
Thankfully, I have learned in these moments of wild outrage to talk myself down from the do-something-I’ll-probably-deeply-regret-later ledge, and since there are no advice manuals on the subject, I want to share my hard-earned wisdom with other moms out there. Ladies, when your kid gets reeje’d, please know that you are not alone. It will feel like you are alone, because very few moms out there are willing to admit that they’ve been in your shoes- but trust me- WE HAVE ALL BEEN IN YOUR SHOES.
We just don’t want anyone else to ever find out about it. Ever.
So today, I’m pulling back the rejection curtain, and presenting to you the five stages of grief when your child gets turned down. You may go through all five in a matter of a minutes, or it might take years- but if you can manage to work your way through these stages with your mouth shut, I guarantee you’ll come out the other side with all of your family’s reputation (mostly) intact.
Here’s the scenario: All of your Facebook “friends” are buzzing about their kids making the travel soccer team, but you haven’t gotten a phone call from the coach. Quickly, you run through all the possible explanations:
A. The coach must have lost your phone number!
B. Something must be wrong with your phone line!
C. The coach’s phone died before he got to your son’s name on his roster!
D. The coach died before he got to your son’s name on his roster!
E. The coach lived– but he must have dialed the wrong number and left a message on SOMEONE ELSE’S machine!
F. There is no F. There are no other rational explanations as to why you haven’t gotten a call yet that your amazingly athletic progeny has made the team. Because OF COURSE HE MADE THE TEAM. Of course he did. Shut up. Stupid #!$*ing Facebook.
My advice: Enjoy this phase, my friend. This is the best you’re going to feel for a while– Sooner than you’d like comes phase two…
Hours pass. Day fades into night. The phone call never comes, and it’s time for me to level with you: You are never going to get that phone call. The realization that your kid did not make the team hits you like a 2,000-pound anvil, and you feel… you feel…
YOU FEEL LIKE TAKING A CROWBAR TO THAT STUPID-A$$ COACH’S CAR, THAT’S HOW YOU FEEL. WHO DOES THAT BALDING, BEER-BELLIED, EIGHTIES TRACKSUIT-WEARING IMBECILE THINK HE IS, ANYWAY? ANYONE WITH EYES CAN SEE YOUR LITTLE BILLY IS THE NEXT FRIGGING RONALDO.
My advice: Yes, you will want to call for a formal investigation into whether this particular coach is smoking the crack pipe. And you will want to call him and tell him exactly what you think of his horrible choices, not to mention his horrible breath. And you will want to share exactly what you think of this repulsive, repugnant, regretful excuse for a man with everyone you know.
One word: Don’t.
You might not believe me now, but trust me– anything you do during this phase, you will regret later. Besides, you’ll be glad you kept your feelings to yourself the moment you enter phase three…
Surely, you think to yourself, there has got to be some way Billy can get onto that travel team. For heaven’s sake, it’s all he’s been talking about for the last six months. You’ll just call the coach and figure out a solution! You’ve got some ideas on how to convince him– In fact, you’ve got about 500 really good ideas! You’ve actually been saving these 500 ideas for an emergency just like this one! And you’re pretty sure the coach won’t be able to say no to your 500 great ideas!
My advice: Need I even say it? Don’t call the coach. Your kid didn’t make the team. It happens. Move on.
And you will. Right into stage four.
Billy didn’t make the team, and you are absolutely sure that the devastation he’ll feel when he finds out will likely ruin his self-confidence, stunt his growth, convince him to say yes to alcohol AND drugs when he goes to his first party in a few years, and result in a long-term jail sentence two decades later, after he’s caught making meth in the rented basement bedroom of some old couple’s house in a sketchy part of town.
Plus? HOW ARE YOU GOING TO EXPLAIN THIS ON FACEBOOK?
You deal with this phase of grief the only way you know how– by eating lots and lots of Girl Scout Cookies.
My advice: The good news is, you’re almost done with the grief process! (Although you will give that coach the stink eye every time you see him for the next twenty-five years.) Take a few days to cry in the shower and watch Alias re-runs and before you know it, you’ll be ready for phase five….
Billy just came home with a flier from the karate studio down the street. He’s begging you to sign him up for classes. A slow smile spreads across your face. Soccer? Who cares about soccer? Soccer sucks.
My advice: Put on your windbreaker and your sassiest pair of eyeglasses, girlfriend.
You’re ready to move on.
Bargaining image via Images_of_Money/Flickr