Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Shame

Alternatively titled, "How to score points with teenaged boys, undermine your own parenting and guarantee yourself a trip to hell...all in one fell swoop."

While waiting for a ballgame to start, eleven 14 year old boys gathered in a sweaty, odiferous group trading witticisms, barbs and fish stories. On the surface it seems innocuous enough, but if you watch closely, you'll discover that what's really taking place is the establishment of a rank system within a newly formed pack.

The problem with this pack is that they are all alpha males. They are the best of the best; chosen for their skill and experience. They know they are good and all of them are used to being superior among their peers. But in this group, the margin of superiority is smaller, the distinction from one to another is harder to recognize. Nobody is the "star" of this group because they are...Allstars.

I sat and watched and listened. Parents like to talk a lot, yannow? And I'm no exception. I'm often terribly guilty of that myself. But I've discovered that I learn the most when my mouth is firmly closed. If I'm really quiet, they sometimes forget I'm there. They are genuine and unguarded. It's a goldmine of insight for anyone who cares to avail themselves of it.

My son is the newcomer. So they quizzed him on all manner of things; where does he go to school, who are his friends, what girls has he dated, what other sports does he play, is he in honors classes, does he associate with so and so....

He answered good naturedly, not at all affronted by being given the third degree.

One kid, with whom my son formed a fast affinity, asked him..."So, dude, what bus do you ride then?"

And I, without thinking, quipped..."The short one."

They cracked up of course. It was a witty remark, but it was more the fact that Pubescent One got burned by his own Mom. He endured a lot of ribbing over that, again, good naturedly.

Shortly after that, they took the field and I was left alone with my thoughts.

That's when the shame came creeping in.

What a horrible thing to say. What a horrible example to set for these almost men. What a sorrowful thing for any Moms who might have been listening, whose children might ride short busses.

My own youngest son is "different". I know the heartaches that brings. I have friends whose children struggle with disabilities; children who are sweet and kind and full of joy.

I thought too of my talisman man.

I diminished all of them with that comment.

And I was ashamed. Deeply, grievously ashamed.

Later, I talked to my son about it. I told him I was ashamed of what I had said. I told him it was cruel and that it went against everything I feel about tolerance, embracing differences and loving all humanity in its perfect imperfection. I told him I wished I could take it back.

"I let myself get caught up in the moment and my judgement just went right out the window."

He looked at me solemnly, unsure, I think, about just what he should say, or if he should say anything.

"I still think you're a good person, Mom. You didn't mean it."

"It doesn't matter if I meant it or not, babe. The hurt is just as bad. I'm ashamed of myself. Truly."

He grinned then, which ignited a little spark of irritation.

"Why are you grinning like that?" I demanded.

"I'm sorry, Mom. I just like knowing you screw up sometimes too."

"Oh boy...you have no idea."

"I do now." he said, grinning even more widely.

He hugged me then, which is becoming more and more rare these days. Something clicked with him. He got it, I think. All of it.

I thought back to my own adolescence. My mother and I nearly killed each other, though today we are very close. My mother was an amazing and wonderful mother in many ways. I feel fortunate to have been raised by her.

But I don't think I ever saw her admit to weakness or wrongdoing. I don't think I ever knew my mother as a person; a fallible being. And I think that set the stage for some major conflict when my sense of self was emerging. I don't think that I ever felt as if I measured up to her standards.

So perhaps my shame has served a purpose in this instance. If it means my son can see me as a human being and take something from that..well...I'll suffer it gladly.

Is there ever a silver lining in the dark cloud of intolerance?

If so, let this be it.

Lesson learned, by both of us.

15 Comments:

  • At 7:01 AM, Blogger Amy Sue Nathan said…

    Admitting some parenting wrongs to teens goes a long way -- I have found that "I don't know" is also a strong communicator. While they rely on us, they're starting to see we don't know it all and when they know that we know it too -- it bridges a gap.

    I love bridges.

     
  • At 8:59 AM, OpenID wheelsonthebus said…

    ouch. but, yes, owning up with our kids is essential.

    i love your blog, you know.

     
  • At 9:15 AM, Blogger K2 said…

    I too love your blog and Hooray for you for fessing up. It is so important that our kids see us as real and fallible human beings, not just the heros and heroines we try to be for them. I had an opportunity recently to fess up to my own boy, K3 and he had a similar reaction. Slight humor, a bit of embarrassment but then an overwhelming message of "thanks and I love you for being honest with me". I hope I don't ever go there too often, but when it's needed, it's important. SO important. Great job and really, I really love your blog!

     
  • At 10:00 AM, Blogger Jenn said…

    I love that you told him that you were ashamed of what you did--and his response.

    The lesson, for both of you, seems to be immeasurable.

    It's good for our kids to know that we are just humans; I wish (still kind of do) that I'd seen that in my parents as well.

     
  • At 10:01 AM, Blogger IIDLYYCKMA said…

    The reason you are such an amazing parent is that you admit to, embrace, and take ownership of our short comings (no pun intended). That makes all the difference in the world.

     
  • At 10:09 AM, Blogger the only daughter said…

    We are indeed, only human. Yay for the admission. Yay for the recognition.

     
  • At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Suzy said…

    When I was 18 years old, my mother confessed something to me, something that shattered the illusion of her being perfect. It made me feel so much better, knowing that she, too was flawed.

    You took an unfortunate incident and turned it into a teaching moment, and gave a wonderful gift to your son.

    Kudos to you. :)

     
  • At 3:02 PM, Anonymous gurukarm (@karma_musings) said…

    BA, as always you're a wonderful mom to your sons, and a wonderful example to your readers.

    One thing I always resented about my mother was that she never, ever, not once, said "I'm sorry" to me. About anything, big or small. As much as I loved her, that always made me feel like I wasn't quite ever "grown up enough" for her to acknowledge me in that way.

    You've done a good thing.

     
  • At 11:22 AM, Blogger Miz Q said…

    I loved this. What you said to him, and what you shared with us. Brilliant! Thanks :o)

     
  • At 10:02 AM, Blogger Jaelithe said…

    Trash talking IS an important social skill for teenagers to learn, you know. At least your son will be able to say he learned it from a master.

    (AND that he learned how to apologize after crossing a line from a master, too.)

     
  • At 3:52 PM, Blogger Woman with kids said…

    Well done. Life is one huge learning experience, it never stops. You taught him many things in that brief experience, dealing with friends, bonding, and that everyone makes mistakes in judgment.

     
  • At 12:37 PM, Blogger mamatulip said…

    Bravo. This post resonated with me.

     
  • At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    two posts in two weeks. I know, the kids are out of school. Still, I'm going through withdrawal.

     
  • At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Lisse said…

    It's a big deal that you could could admit a mistake. I think sometimes the hardest thing for teens to deal with is the "do as I say, not as I do" hypocrisy of adults.

    Being able to admit you were in the wrong will go a long way toward helping your kids see you as human.

     
  • At 1:00 PM, Blogger Jozet at Halushki said…

    Great post! We all make our parenting - and just plain human - fumbles. I've made "short bus" jokes in the past, and even now that I know much better and have known better for some time, well, sometimes things slip out.

    Admitting mistakes is part of good parenting; even when the mistake was bad parenting. It's ironic, that way.

    Again, fabulous post.

     

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