My children are always bumping into things, spilling drinks or tripping over each other like a litter of hungry puppies. After I have asked them three times to do something and I give a consequence for their blatant disobedience or disregard, they feign surprise. There is no end to the places where Paul and I find “the other shoe” and there is almost always something vital to their future success forgotten in the car.
We all remember Hide the Tomato!
In the midst of their childish mistakes, I remember that they are childish. They are learning everything for the first time. Consider the first time they ever experienced hunger outside of my body and what a shock that first hunger pain was. Their life will be full of those shocks for a very long time. I am still shocked by life experience and I am most definitely a grown up now. You know, I am thirty.
The other day my oldest son forgot something, or hurt himself doing something ill advised. I looked over at him and said, “Well, that was silly.” This has become my ordinary response to bad decisions that maybe are not disobedient but they are definitely not the best of ideas. It’s my version of toned down sarcasm and an attempt at not getting overly irritated at their blunders.
In this moment, my son turned to me and said,
“Can you not say that to me, Mom? It kind of makes me feel bad.”
My first reaction was shame and the next was a washing over of pride. Not only was my son mature enough to express his true feelings but he was brave enough to do so. I hate that my words were biting to him. Apparently, my attempt to “tone down the sarcasm” was insufficient and my “sense of humor” full of pretense. I was dishonest and he called me on it.
In so many of our interactions, I have taught him that it is not always what you say. Your tone carries more depth than your words. For example, a insincere apology is hard to disguise. I made him feel “silly”, or my translation, “stupid” for making childish mistakes. I wondered how many times I had used this default statement in the past.
I loved this moment in time that assured me that my son can and will stick up for himself when he is feeling hurt. It brought me great joy that my son is able to stick up for himself even to me. Score 1 point for the Mom building her relationship with her kids based on love and not fear.
I know that their are people who do not allow themselves to be corrected by their children because they feel that it somehow undermines their authority. I would suggest that when your child respectfully offers his opinion, you take heed. They are sharing their genuine heart with you and freeing you to do the same.
I told him that I would never say that to him again and I haven’t.
I would never pass up a lesson from my oldest son.