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Posts Tagged ‘question’

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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