the nothing box

masterminds and wingmenI only reached page 20, last evening, as I read aloud to the hubs.  He smiled; nodding his head in agreement.  He  knows that until this book is completely read that I will follow him around the house to read him tidbits. His nothing box can’t stay open for long.

This books speaks to me; to us.  The scenarios are real and relevant.  I remembered why I had enjoyed Wiseman’s other two books.  I always get something from them and they have given me insight on many situations.

And this morning I blew it.  Go figure.

I was entering the back gate driveway to my son’s junior high; cars weaving in and out surrounding me.  You have to keep on your toes and my head constantly is moving; my eyes searching to make sure another parent does not pull-out as my guy hops out of my front passenger door.  It has to be quick; this drop-off, since there is a long line of cars behind our two lanes; attempting to get their child into the school gates prior to the bell.  I arrive early but, today, others had the same idea.

I wished him a great day and this son asked me how he looked.  I gave him a cursory glance as I noted the car adjacent to mine, a parent I know, was about to pull-out in front of us.  I gave the expected answer.  You look fine.  But I had not glanced in his direction; my eyes fixed on the car jutting in front of mine.  Prior to the door closing I heard him mutter under his breath.  Though I missed the actual words what I think he muttered, reading his body language and hearing his tone,  was that I didn’t even look at him and it didn’t matter anyway.  (ouch)

I relayed this to the hubs at work.   His response.  What good does all this reading do for you if you don’t practice it. (wince)

In my defense, safety concerns trumped my son’s body image.  But I could have delayed in my lane, rolled down the window and yelled out to him.  This, I did not do.

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. ~ Romans 7:19. (sigh)

Amongst the invoices and bills I am distracted.  Hence, I blog.  There are many girl mommy blogs out there and it made me wonder why.  Ms. Wiseman notes in her book that when a girl t-shirt company sells a shirt that says I hate algebra that moms immediately jump on social networks and blogs; protesting and blasting the company.  What kind of a message are you sending out to our girls?  But where are the boy mommy blogs?  When a boy is screamed at on a soccer field for playing like a girl, and to get their head in the game do we, parents, make a stand then?  Or are we the bystanders who quietly cringe on the sidelines; trying not to make a scene for fear the coach will take it out on our sons?   Sometimes, I am the one doing the yelling.

The year was 2008 and my son was on this soccer field.  The coach had taken my son out of the game because a fellow parent said his son told him ours purposely ridiculed him during the last play.  Our son had not been near this child.  This was his classmate and the father threw a tirade on the sidelines, screaming at the hubs and I; our child present.  I’m sick of your son bullying mine!  The parents on the sidelines were quiet; the coach focused on the game on the field.  The hubs immediately demanded our son to apologize.

Our son REFUSED.  When the hubs yelled louder, he still refused.  Embarrassed, he walked away, the parents watching.  I was fuming.  At the father for screaming, at the coach for doing nothing.  For the hubs making it worse.  I had bent down to our son and looked him in the eye.  Why won’t you say you are sorry?

Because I did not do what they said I did.  He is lying.  This child, the cute one who all the teachers loved; was the one creating situations with my son.  Why?  Because there were three boys that were friends and he was trying to eliminate one of them.  Mine.

It took weeks to sort through all of that and in the walls of our own home, the hubs heard me rage.  Never.  Ever, do that again.  The teachers at the school intervened and it came to light that our child was correct.  Whenever I saw that parent I always looked him in the eye.  He could never maintain eye contact with me.  He was the beloved boy scout leader for several boys in our grade.

It is in my nature to believe someone’s statement until proven wrong.  Recently my son’s friend, a great kid, told me my son had taken an item from him.  Busy with writing PTA checks I believed him; not making eye contact with my son.  A fellow parent had to vocalize that the friend was pulling my leg; that my son was in the right.  It was trivial, the gripe.  But I was reminded again; my penchant to believe others above my own.  I am biased against my own children.

This is not how it should be.  Usually the parental blinders are rose- colored in favor of our children; not against them.

This is where my childhood upbringing comes into play.  Always do your best.  Be humble.  Don’t make waves.  I had to check my baggage, once again, to fight the unspoken message I learned from my own parents.  Don’t show emotion; even if they are wrong.    When my parents were given compliments on my achievements my father, boastfully puffed up; my mother, immediately found fault.  You want to marry my daughter?  Well, she’s ugly and she can’t cook.  THIS is the internalized message.  That daughter, really, isn’t all that and a bag of chips.  She has flaws so when she screws up as your wife, you were forewarned.  I am making a broad generalization here, but most Asian parents are this way.  Their daughter may be the valedictorian, play 1st chair violin and be beautiful, but she’s getting a little fat.   She needs to work on her social skills.  Why did you go to college when you stay-at-home?  What a waste!  I love the film Joy Luck Club.  Rare that a compliment, about their child,  is accepted, with grace.

And so it goes, life.  The hubs, he checks out and opens his nothing box.

What, you ask, is the nothing box?  He gleaned the phrase from a comedian who joked that all he wanted to do was to come home from work, sit on the couch and open the “nothing box.”  He didn’t want honey-do lists, nagging about laziness.  He just wanted to sit and do absolutely nothing; to do what he wanted to do.

It has taken me many years to accept this box; to do nothing.  I am a mover and can always find things to organize, clean.  The hubs feels my stare, hears my sigh as I bustle about him.  The guilt starts to set in and he gets irritated, as do I.  It is fifteen years and it is only recently that I can empathize.  The cue words have to be said.  I am going to open my nothing box, now.  Once that is relayed I cannot harangue.  Usually I will nod in assent; understanding that he needs his time.  He teased that I should print the list from Good Housekeeping on how to be the ideal wife (prior to WWII).  To have his cigar and slippers waiting by the door.  Dinner hot and ready.  Newspaper unfolded so that when the husband, arrives home from work he can relax from his trying work day.  I should be dressed, with lipstick, and waiting with a bright smile and a happy kiss.

He wishes! (smirk)

But what I’ve just recently realized is that we DO model the behavior learned from our childhood.  Those internal messages; they are real.  The day my boys handed us flowers and a homemade card confirmed that they are constantly watching; judging, learning.  When, we parents, act hypocritically; they notice.  They cringe.  What we say is not what we do.  It our duty, to our children, to always do the right thing.  This transparency needs to be all the time because they know when we are doing it wrong.  To raise honorable sons I need to model this behavior; to pay attention to details.  They may not say what they mean; but they certainly are feeling it on the inside.   And most importantly, I need to let them open their nothing boxes.  To be the kids that they are; to not project what I want them to be.

Since 2008 I have learned to be a better advocate for my children.  It is a painful process, at times, to realize my internal baggage and how I fail them.  But I am learning.  I continue to read.


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