This morning my little boys were racing around trying to get points on our new board.
They don’t know what the points mean exactly, but they know that they want them.
They scored points for cleaning up, getting dressed, making their own breakfast, doing it within time-frames and helping others.
We wrote them on the mirror that is in our kitchen.
With the cleaner coming I decided we should record the points we’d earned on paper so the mirror could be cleaned properly. We can then resume our scoring on the mirror this afternoon.
The boys, taking initiative, decided to help even further and wipe off the points. I said don’t worry about it and left the room. I came back into the kitchen with the boys on the bench, shoes on, using paper towel and water to get this mirror chalk off. It was a huge mess. There were chalk drippings all over my benches.
There were their proud faces, asking for more paper towel. Hoping to score more points.
“Get off the benches.
I told you to leave it.
Now there is chalk stuff all over the bench which is not good for it.
If I say no, there is a reason for it.
Why don’t you listen to me?”
I watched their little chests deflate like emptying balloons. I watched their shoulders round and their heads droop.
One child more obviously broken up than the other.
Time to move.
“We are going to be late, let’s get out of here.”
Bags get thrown on their backs, scooters and bikes grabbed and then the little one decides it time to get dressed.
Shorts, t-shirt – no shoes.
It’s too late to do anything. Then as I get outside it starts to rain. A few drops of water won’t hurt anyone. We keep on going.
As the rain becomes torrential, we run. Exhilarated we grin at each other and the boys take the challenge of running the fastest to their classrooms. We give each other dripping, soggy kisses and part ways.
In that half an hour period I could sum up what I know about boys (and men).
- They want their efforts rewarded. It’s ingrained in them. When they are not rewarded they are deflated and unlikely to try again.
- They want to be the hero. The winner. The best.
- They have laser focus when they want to use that super power. To the point where they have no way of hearing, understanding, acknowledging that anything else is being said.
- They have only the best intentions.
- They know (more than women) what being in the moment, being in the flow means.
- They forgive.
- They are less sensitive to criticism than woman but when it is given from someone they trust they are destroyed.
- They want to understand why they are doing something and when they do they will give it their all.
- They don’t complain (as much) about unnecessary, unsolvable problems (I’m wet, I’m late, I’m cold).
- They understand that true joy lies in feeling alive and will chase that feeling.
Where we (I) go wrong: (as always it has to do with lack of understanding)
- We treat them like they are misbehaving when they don’t listen/act/move the same as we would
- Our observations/criticisms don’t take into account what they were trying to do (and they don’t get a chance to tell us)
- We believe that we know what their intentions are (and we don’t)
- Women keep track of what is expected of them and males are more likely to do their own thing – not out of selfishness but with an innate sense of themselves and who they are
The question that I keep asking myself lately is how I am going to raise good men when I don’t even understand them?
Do any of us?
The women’s movement allowed us more freedom than our ancestors had ever dreamed but do we know what to do with that freedom?
Have we looked at what men have done in the past and just tried to “out-man” them – in the workforce, in the home, in romance?
Are we losing our ability to be feminine and use our own special type of qualities for leading/equality?
That beautiful feminine/masculine energetic dance getting lost in a sea of criticism, put-downs and fear.
We are always protecting ourselves, trying to be strong enough, trying to be the most beautiful, trying to outdo each other.
We don’t listen when a man says he loves our curves, our silliness, loves helping us, appreciating us. Because how could he truly mean that when we are not perfect?
Then we expect them to be perfect. When they are not we search for a reason for this and come up with the fact that they don’t love, care, respect us enough. And the reason for that is that we are not good enough. Because if we were, he would act perfectly.
I was crushed walking home from school today when I replayed the scene from this morning in my head.
Because I wasn’t perfect.
If I was the perfect Mum then I could have erased that scene from even happening.
I am so bloody grateful for my self-awareness and this forum to be able to write out my jumbled thoughts and give them to you. What do you think?
What if everytime we didn’t understand something about our partners/children – we stopped reacting and instead proactively asked them a question. “I assume you have a good reason for everything you do. I am trying to understand better. Why did you do it that way?”
Then we listened to the answer?
If anything creates more empathy, compassion and understanding in any relationship – I believe it is truly listening to each other.