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Posts Tagged ‘emotion’

So, I normally don’t do parenting blogs so close together, but the situation warrants it.  Oh, and for those that are keeping track, I still owe you a near-death-experience blog.  Don’t worry, I will get to it, and once you read it, you will wonder why you cared.

On a daily basis, I ask my son how is day went.  If you have kids, and more specifically, if you have sons, you know what the answer is 99 times out of 100.  He always responds, “Fine.”  Even when I attempt to follow-up with more specific questions, the gist of his responses are generally somewhere within the “Fine” category.  So, a couple of days ago, after trying my usual follow-up questions, such as, “Did anything exciting happen today?” or “What was your favorite part of class?” or, my favorite, “Who did you play with/talk to at recess?”, but after getting the same old recycled answers, I tried something different.  I asked him, “Did anything bad happen today?”

You might be thinking to yourself, “Well, that is an odd question to ask an 11 year-old boy.”  Especially when there is no reason to think that anything bad would happen to a kid in 5th grade.  But, you don’t know my son.  My son is the king of “Everything is all right.”  I think this is a great trait to have in most situations, except for when things are not all right.  I blame myself for this, as I am not one to complain.  I hate complaining as a matter of fact, and hate it more when other people complain.  The problem with this is that everyone, even me, needs opportunities to share the negative aspects of their life with someone.  As a matter of fact, if you have no one to share these parts of your life with, you will have major emotional problems.  In other words, you can’t bottle shit up.  It’s just not healthy.  Now, I know what you are saying, what about my issues with emotional people?  The truth is, it’s not emotions I have a problem with, it is the reactions/choices people make in response to their emotions that I question.   It is OK to be angry, it is not OK to take a crowbar to someone’s car window because they cut you off a mile back.  It should be OK, but it is not. 

Well, what about my son?  It turns out, the question, “Did anything bad happen today?” elicits a rather thought out, lengthy response.  The first time I asked him this question was two days after he wore his fedora to school.  Apparently some boys asked to wear it, and they had to be compelled by teachers to give it back.  My son’s version of this was quite positive.  He contended that they were going to give it back, and it was not a big deal.  But, it doesn’t take much to read between the lines.  Afterwards, I asked him, if he liked wearing the hat.  He said, “Yes.”

“Then don’t worry about what other people think or do.  And you need to know that it is OK to protect yourself.  Besides, you look great in that hat.”  I said.

We continued to talk about how he did not have to let others wear his hat if he didn’t want to, and it was OK for him to demand for his stuff back when the situation warranted.  It was a good conversation.

I also asked this question of him today, hence the inspiration for this blog.  It turns out that while playing volleyball in gym, there was a kid that was yelling at other kids for not hitting the ball correctly.  He apparently was yelling, “Watch the ball!” 

Brett did not like this.  I asked Brett if the kid yelled at him, and he said “Not so much.” 

“What did you do?” I asked. 

“I told him to be quiet.  He didn’t need to say so much.” Brett said.  

I said, “Good for you.”

The last couple of days have got me thinking about questions, and the role of the speaker and the listener.  I remember reading a book, “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell as he discuss how Korean culture was the likely culprit for a series of airplane crashes.  You see, Gladwell made the argument that in the Korean culture, subordinates are not to challenge or speak up assertively to their superiors.  So, as he argued, when Korean co-pilots had information vital to the security of the plane, they were not willing to correct or assertively argue for a decision that may contradict their superiors, even if it meant preventing a plane crash.  Many pilots now under go training on proper communication between officers, placing the safety of the plane first over cultural norms. 

I thought of this because I believe this is the relationship my son and I have developed.  I am his clear superior, and he actively seeks not to give me negative information.  He believes this so much, that even though I might ask about his day, he will censor out the bad stuff, unless I specifically ask for that information.  It makes me think that if the knowledge of culture can serve to avoid plane crashes, maybe the knowledge of family culture can be just as effective in avoiding future family “crashes”.  I don’t know if the current form of question will always work, but I think I have at least a glimmer of hope in better understanding our relationship.  I will make it very clear to him, that not only is keeping the bad stuff hidden unhealthy for him, but it is unhealthy for us.  One thing is very clear, it is not that my son is uncommunicative, it is just that I haven’t asked the right question.

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I would be remiss if I did not say Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!  Go get your drink on, but be safe.  Keep in mind that if you end up looking like this:

Isaac is excited to find out he is part Irish

 and are NOT 3 years old, you might have a problem.  I’m just sayin …

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So, I am married to an emotional being.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to make fun of her or claim that she is some crazy b&#$! or something, because she is not.  I love her to death.  I say that mostly because it is true, and partially because she reads my blog.  She actually doesn’t read my blog regularly, I don’t know why.  She reads it in batches and is never up to date.  For example, recently I told her that I was going to the bathroom and she asked “Because you have to go, or because you need a break from your family?”  At first I was confused by this response, then I realized, wait, that is from my blog (see Everyone Poops …).  So, I clearly need to make sure that what I write here does not get me into trouble.

Ah fuck it!  If I can’t say it here, I shouldn’t say it at all.  Pardon the language, but that is how I feel.  I digress.

As I was saying, my wife is an emotional being.  This is an issue.  It is an issue mainly because I am not.  Now, I am not a robot, but let’s just say that I could vacation on Vulcan and have a good time.  If you have no idea what Vulcan has to do with emotions, than you are a better person than I.  It also most likely means you were having sex in high school, while I was not.  Once again, I digress.  It’s not that I can’t be emotional, it is just that under most scenarios, I do not find emotions helpful.  Let me paint a picture for you of an actual exchange between my wife and I.  Now, this exchange is true in nature, but not true in fact.  In other words, the following conversation has never actually happened, but if you were to exchange the topic for just about anything else, it probably at one time or another has happened in my home:

HER: “Hey Love, can we talk?”

[Note: NO conversation that begins with “Can we talk?” is ever good.  If your wife ever opens up a sentence with “Hey, can we talk?”  “Stop your grinnin’ and drop your linen!” cause you are in for a bumpy ride.  If you don’t know where the “…linen” quote is from, again, sex in high school.  It’s called trade-offs.  My point is, as soon as she says “Hey” I know that the next few moments are not going to end well for me.]

ME: “Sure. What’s up?”

HER:  I’m tired.  I am sick of being tired.

ME:  You should try to get more sleep.

HER:  I can’t get more sleep.  I have too much work to do.  Between work, the kids, the house, making food, cleaning … and you, there is not enough time in the day.

ME:  Then you should cut out some of those things so that you don’t have as much work to do.  I could even help out more.

[Note:  Did yo notice that last sentence?  You see I am not an idiot.  I know that my wife works a lot and I can be a pill sometimes.  So, I am offering to help.  I am a great guy! Right?  WRONG! Let’s continue]

HER:  “I can’t just stop doing things!  Those things are important to me.  I do them because they are important to me, my family is important to me.  And because of all the things that need to get done, I am stressed about stuff and I don’t get enough sleep.”

[The following line is a rookie mistake.  I know it every time I say it, but I can’t help myself.]

ME:  Then what do you want from me?

HER:  I just want you to listen!  God!  Why are you such an ass!

ME:  Sorry.  Umm, I hate to change the subject, but do you know where my tool box is?

HER:  It is probably in the garage.  Why?

ME:  Oh no reason, I just need to go drill a hole in my skull.  I am pretty sure it will take me to a better place then the rest of this conversation.

[And scene]

OK, the last part never actually happens, at least not out loud.  So, here is the thing, and I know at least half of my reading audience is thinking “Why can’t you understand?” and the other half is screaming “Preach it brutha!”, but this is a story more about me than her.  You see my wife is an emotional being, but I am a problem solver.  In my mind, I have absolutely no idea how listening to a problem will ever solve a problem.  Just because you name a problem does not make it go away, it’s not Rumpelstiltskin (OK, if you don’t get that reference, then you just need to read more.  That or watch more cartoons).  However, for emotional beings, just talking about a problem makes them feel better.  I will never understand this, but it’s true.

It’s funny, on paper, my wife and I should never work, but we do.  Although I can do without emotions much of my life, they are important to the world and to me.  Much like politics, having extremes can bring things closer to the middle where things belong.  She also just keeps me in check.  She is not afraid to tell me I’m an ass sometimes and that’s a fact.  I’m also a little afraid of her.  A healthy fear, I think, but I am fairly certain that although I am more than twice her size, she would kick my ass in a fight.  I’ve seen her angry.  If you know her you might not believe me, because she is a sweet person, but think Hulk, probably not green Hulk, but gray Hulk (again, high school).

So, to all you emotional beings out there, stay emotional.  But don’t forget, in the long run, problems should never stay problems, they need to be solved.  So, make sure that you keep that problem solver in your life, they serve an important purpose.  And I am learning, as a problem solver, that a hug may not solve the problem, but it will sure make life a lot happier and make life less like high school, if you know what I mean.
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My oldest son had his first karate lesson yesterday.  It was a free trial with him and the instructor.  He gets three more lessons at a reduced rate, then if he wants to continue he will join a group.  During the lesson, he could not contain his excitement.  His entire body was smiling.  It was fun to watch.  I have decided that one of the perks of children is getting reminders of “pure” joy.  It is like the first time you do something you always wanted to do, like riding your bike, your first Christmas, Disneyland or sex, it’s amazing how exciting it is your first time.  Actually, probably not sex, that is more awkward and generally gets better once you know what you are doing, but maybe that’s just me. [awkward pause]  Anyway, it was fun to watch.  Possibly the greatest perk to being a parent is seeing joy in your kids.  Not funny, but true.  I’m just sayin …

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