My heart is broken and I engaged in a bribe just so that I could feel free to post today the devastation I went through as my 12-year-old boy told me to shut up. Well, those were not the exact words he spoke to me but he might as well have said them, when through the changing room door I heard his half boy half-man voice come out loud and clear “could you please stop talking?” “Ouch!” What did I say that was so wrong? How could he treat me with such disrespect? Here I was, taking time out of my busy day to make sure he had clothes to cover his ever-growing limbs and just wanted to check to make sure there was not any other needs he might have, that of course is where it all went wrong.
Apparently, I broke one of those unspoken rules, you know, we all have them. There are things we would say in private that we might not in public. Ways we might act behind closed doors but never on a stage. They are different for each one of us but we all have them. “Honestly, son, I did not know it was a rule”.
I find it ironic because this is an area that I find very intriguing, the dreaded unspoken polices that so many people have, rules we all follow that can’t be found in a play book or instruction manual. The dilemma that I have with these silent set of self-induced laws is this. Because they are not spoken of how in the world am I suppose to know how to follow them. I find that it is only when I break the unspoken rules do I have a chance at finding out what they really are. I am not a rebel without a cause, I am not against systems and regulations that help us feel safe within our circles. I do not like making people feel uncomfortable or noticed. I just want to know the rules.
So, here I was with my 12 year old man child, he was on one side of the dressing room trying on pants while I innocently stood on the outside waiting to see if they fit. I know most of you who know me must be chuckling, thinking “innocently”?, fair enough. There are times when I have been known to mess with my children and thank God for amends and forgiveness but this was truly an innocent mistake. I am treading on new waters, raising a boy and finding out that there are just something’s boys do not talk about in public or private unlike girls.
As he was trying on new pants, going back and forth about them fitting, I simply asked if he needed new underwear. I proceeded to ask about the ones he had on today, the ones that were hanging outside his pants hiked up to his chest, OK, maybe not that far but I am sure you get the picture. Moreover, truthfully, I would not be surprised if he was thinking at the time, “you hypocrite,” See, I am the last person to be coaching anyone on underwear etiquette and that is another blog in itself. As I finished my inquiring about the apparent need and paused to get his response all I could hear was dead silence, followed by a grunt and then he did it. He told me to shut up, close your mouth woman, you have nothing meaningful to say!. Shut up! OK, that was my negative distorted hearing that I like to use when I feel sorry for myself and want to drag others with me, hope you did not buy it, especially if you know my boy.
Even though I could not see his eyes, I would have bet big bucks on the fact that as he firmly and boldly spoke out “would you please stop talking”, his eyes were rolling at the same time. I was taken back, hurt and pained at the fact that he was really telling me to shut up in the most respectful way. Standing on the other side of the dressing room was my boy fighting to become a man and really putting me in my place, introducing me for the first time to one of his un-spoken rules. As he came out, looked up at me with those big blue eyes that said, “Please don’t say another word” the revelation hit me.
I quietly and gently just leaned in and said “guys don’t talk about their underwear to each other especially in public, right?” With a smile across his face and his shoulders flared back he said in all confidence to me “that is right”! I was amazed and I continued to break the unspoken rule as we walked through the department store. However, I was speaking in a quieter voice but I needed to know. Raising two girls, having lots of sisters and girlfriends we don’t have that rule, it’s just the opposite. We can talk for hours about our underwear in public, in line with them in our hands and not even think twice.
As we were making our way to the check out line, I leaned in to get close to his ear and just said, “ You would never talk about your underwear with another guy?” His head flipping back, eyes making contact with mine he said, “The only time it is OK is if it is about a wedgey” he quickly turned his head away and the conversation was done. I am so visual, that is all he needed to say to shut me up. The point was taken, the pants were purchased, and my wheels started turning.
When we got into the car I brought up to him about un-spoken rules and how we all have them and shared with him the lesson I had just learned from our own experience in the dressing room. Here is where the bribe came in. My boy knows me so well and he ordered me not to blog about this. Can you believe it? I am the grown up for goodness sake but I got it and told him I would just journal about it and he still didn’t want that. So I proceeded of course to give him a little government lesson in free speech and I believe eyes were rolling during the lesson as well.
When I got home, there were a few things he really wanted to do and one thing I really wanted to do, so, you could say we comprised, I like that better then a bribe and he got his way and I got mine. I know in his young mind that this seems to be all about the underwear and if that is what you got out of this as well then you are missing the point.
So, a challenge to all of you who come across this blog. What are some of your unspoken rules, policies that you follow that seem to dictate your actions, your feelings and possibly set you up for a false belief system. I honesty did not set out to embarrass my son and you bet next time we are shopping together I will honor his unspoken rule but I only knew that is existed because I broke it.