When I comingled my DNA with my sons’ father’s, it didn’t occur to us that we would produce exceedingly guilty children. Catholic guilt runs deep even in those who don’t practice; we just know we did something wrong, and Jewish guilt adds that good measure of feeling so badly about it. I’ve read that when Jews marry outside their faith they most often marry Catholics, so I’m sure we weren’t the only couple producing kids with the hepped-up super-conscience syndrome.
But my kids are excessively candid about their wrong doing. They need to confess all the damn time. And on one hand, good on me, I have amazingly open, honest kids. On the other hand? Sometimes I just do not want to know, and I worry about the basic survival instincts of children who don’t seem to understand that sometimes it might be better that way; that self flagellation might not always be the best option, and sometimes keeping your mouth shut and changing your behavior is often the option which will make things right.
On Friday my 12 year old came home and, as has become the norm lately, told me that he got in a little bit of trouble. His afternoon homecomings have become a bit like when you go to the doctor for chronic pain and he asks you to rate the pain on a scale of one to ten. It’s chronic, it will always have a rating. That’s my twelve year old. On a scale of one to ten, how much did you piss your teachers off today? Really! That much?
“Hi Mom. I got in–”
“Bzzt!” I held one hand up. “No.”
“But Mom. I need to tell you. ”
“Nooo, you don’t. If it’s something I need to know, I’m sure I’ll get a call really soon, and I can be upset then. Until then, your problem.”
It’s as if all his latent Catholic genes have awoken and mutated and gone haywire. He’s like a Spiderman who’s been bitten by a radioactively Catholic spider. He’s Super Confession Boy.
“I’m not going to feel right unless I tell you, Mom.”
“And I’m not going to feel right unless you don’t.”
“I don’t feel honest if I don’t tell you. I’m gonna feel so baaaad.”
And the 50% of the child’s DNA which is steeped through and through with Jewish Guilt just cannot be kept down. It’s come out of it’s room to join with Super Confession Boy as his sidekick, Guiltanomo. Together they will make me want to cut my head off and eat it.
“Mom. I’m serious. I feel really bad if I don’t tell you.”
“Dude, maybe you should feel bad?”
This conversation continued through the weekend and this morning, with him trying to open the topic and relieve himself of the discomfort of getting in trouble, and me slamming the door on the topic shut. Him frustrated that I wouldn’t listen, and me out of patience with the topic of bad behavior.
His homecoming today was the standard.
“Hey buddy, how was your day?”
“It was good, but I got in a little bit —-”
“Dude. I will cut you a deal.”
“If you put on a prayer shawl and a yarmulke, go in the closet and kneel and pretend it’s a confessional? I will totally listen to what you did wrong today. But if that seems a little stupid? Then just do better tomorrow and tell me what went right today.”