One evening, out of the blue, he told me that he was quitting Tae Kwon Do.
Everything spun out of control from that moment on.
I wanted to understand why and how he came to that decision all of a sudden. I tried to talk to him about it. I definitely wasn’t trying to start a fight. I simply had not expected him to say that he wanted to quit.
When he came home from residential treatment, I gave him the option to start back into Tae Kwon Do the next month, keep it on hold, or quit. He wanted to start back as soon as he could. I thought he liked the thought that Tae Kwon Do was something totally different from the rehab experience and was fun and challenging.
But, the next month, he only went twice. He always came up with reasons not to go like being too tired, too sick, or having too much homework.
I didn’t really feel like he had gone enough times to determine whether he still wanted to keep doing it or not.
When I said that, though, he responded by asking me if I tasted poo, would I give it more chances to see if I liked it or not?
I should have just walked away at that point. I should have seen how ridiculous everything was going to get.
Instead, I said that I just wanted to talk about this instead of just hearing “I am quitting.”
So, he tried another absurd analogy. Apparently, if he needs to give Tae Kwon Do some more chances, then I should have to try hunting with my husband again since I quit hunting with him (at least 20 years ago!).
I almost didn’t even know how to respond to that, so he took my silence as an excuse to end the conversation. He started getting ready to play the X-box.
I told him that while we were discussing this and while he was acting like he was, I didn’t want him to play the X-box. He got mad and charged up the stairs, swearing his head off. I even heard myself referred to as a b!#@& in the tirade. I shouted after him that I wanted him to come back so we could finish talking and he said that HE was finished talking about it--in all kinds of colorful language.
I wasn’t really yelling up the stairs, it was more like pleading loudly because I didn’t understand why he was acting like he was and I didn’t want it to end like that. I wanted a peaceful resolution.
My husband walked in at that moment and told us both that it sounded like we needed a time out. But, my son wouldn’t even let him finish talking and started swearing at him, too.
Then, I did yell. I told him to shut up!
He said that I was freaking out about him quitting Tae Kwon Do, but I wasn’t. I thought I was doing a fabulous job of being calm in the face of absurdity.
I guess wanting to understand a decision is freaking out. I guess asking questions is freaking out.
He said that everything that had happened so far was my fault.
I took my time-out by leaving the house. I felt like some alternate reality had taken over and I had to get away from it. I felt like I was watching everything take place from above my body, but wasn’t really in it. It was so weird that I didn’t feel like it could really be happening. I drove around the valley that we live in for 3 hours, not really going anywhere. I cried most of the time and even had to pull over and park for awhile when I couldn’t see through my tears.
My husband tried to talk to him a few times, but he just kept getting sworn at. He dropped the F-bomb so many times that night that it was dripping off the ceiling again. He said that he wished he had the option to leave like I did. He repeated his mantra of being DONE—done trying--and didn’t want to do anything anymore.
My husband kept calling me to try to get me to come home because he was concerned about me driving around while I was so upset. Eventually, I came back, but the only thing that changed was that my son had stopped swearing. The tension was high and I still did not want to be there since my presence that night was causing my son to lose any sense of how to act decently.
Immediately after I entered the house, he started getting mad again. This time because he did not know where the amplifier cord to his electric guitar was. He stretched that frustration out to include the fact that not only did we lose his amp cord when we cleaned out his room, we broke his guitar too.
My husband just kept his cool, found the amp cord, and didn’t say anything at all about how we did or did not break his guitar. He brought him the cord and a screwdriver to use to fix his guitar and just left my son alone.
After he talked to his sponsor that night, he calmed down a little, but insisted that because I wouldn’t accept his answer and just kept asking the same question over and over again, it made him mad.
So, when I asked the question: “Why do you want to quit Tae Kwon Do?” and the answer that I got was “Because I do,”--was I just supposed to take that answer for what it was and drop the subject?
My son thought so.
But, we pay $117.00 a month for Tae Kwon Do. We were in the middle of a 2 year contract. I thought I should be able to make sure that quitting was what he really wanted to do. I hoped that he would just take another extension for awhile because we were going to have to buy out the contract and lose about $400.00 in order for him to quit. I didn’t know that he had given my husband a few hints over the past few weeks about wanting to give it up. That information had not been shared with me.
And, I was worried that if he gave up Tae Kwon Do, he would be giving up the only extracurricular activity that he had. He has NO OTHER ACTIVITIES right now. School, group and recreational therapy, doing things as a family, and playing the X-box are the extent of his life. When my husband asked him what other activity he would like to do instead, he said that TV watching will be just fine.
I was just sick about what had happened. The situation had spun out of control and I failed to stop it. I couldn’t even sleep that night because I was worried that he might try to run away since he said that he was “done” again. I was worried that he would start getting depressed again and I was worried that he would relapse. This whole argument was one of those triggers for relapse that we need to try to avoid.
We didn’t avoid it time.
I still can’t get over how it is impossible to talk to my son.
If I had just made chocolate chip cookies and then asked him if he wanted one and he said no, I would probably ask him why not? In a normal situation, he would say that he didn’t feel like eating any cookies right now, but would have some later because he really likes chocolate chip cookies. But, in the reality that we live in now, he would start swearing at me, calling me names, and saying that I freaked out just because he didn’t want a cookie.
Every time it seemed like things are starting to go just a little bit better, something happens to move us backward again.
I guess I have to learn to just radically accept his answer for what it is and try not to get him to have a conversation with me or discuss anything.
And I won’t offer him a chocolate chip cookie.