Month: March 2014
Yesterday was Shane’s last day of “Intro to Acting” class, and they did a little show for parents. Shane adores this class. Emphasis is on imagination and knowing the character and story line, rather than on stage technique.
Of course, I signed up Shane for acting hoping that he would learn to speak louder and more clearly – but that’s apparently not the goal.
It’s always a real delight for me to see Shane’s performances, because there’s no judgment by anyone. There are no right or wrong answers, or actions, or ways to perform. No one tells Shane his ways are odd – even if they are. Instead, he is actually quite funny.
Best of all is the way he sees himself. Last night he told me, “I’m kind of like the class clown in there. I just say whatever I am thinking and people just laugh.”
People laugh with him in this class, rather than condemning him for being different. His self-esteem skyrockets – and his ideas can be very, very different than the norm.
I remember when Shane was younger and we were playing a game, much like charades. Shane was supposed to act out the picture on his card, and we were supposed to guess the word.
Shane got down onto the floor, curled himself tightly into a ball with his head down, put his fist on his head and put up one finger.
We were all flummoxed.
After many failed guesses, we learned that Shane’s word was “apple.” Many people would mime the act of eating an apple, but not Shane. He became an apple. Similar things happen every week in his class, but rather than feeling frustrated, he is praised for his creativity. It not only increases his self-esteem – but it encourages him to be more open with what he is thinking.
And how he thinks is of great interest to me. It’s often difficult to understand what he’s trying to say, but well worth the effort when I finally do. He has a lot to say – sometimes much deeper than I’d ever expect, and sometimes so innocent in his childlike wonder, it almost breaks my heart.
It’s always an adventure.
I am doing a poor job with my new listening skills.
Yesterday, I had some quality alone time with Dylan – in the car, as usual. We were on our way to see a movie together. He started texting before we got out of the driveway.
I tried making a little joke. “Who are you texting now?” I asked.
“Why does it matter who I’m texting?” said my teenager, clearly annoyed.
“I just wanted to practice my new listening skills!” I said. “I’m ready!”
He didn’t say anything. Dylan didn’t even look at me.
I hardly paused to breathe before repeating everything I’d said in my text two days earlier, then topping it off with, “I just want to know who is more important than me!”
He got a bit defensive. It wasn’t really a surprise. I’d started to lose it.
Things came out of my mouth like, “You never talk to me!” and “I just don’t understand what happened to you!” and “Really? You won’t say ANYthing to me?” and “NOTHING?!”
Dylan said nothing at all. I’m not sure, by that point, that anything coming out of his mouth would have made any difference. I completely lost it.
By the time we got to the movie theater, I was stomping around like an angry toddler. I did things like slamming the car door and ordering him to “TAKE YOUR WATER BOTTLE” which was already in his hand.
“Hurry up; we’re late!” I yelled at him, as we walked at least half a mile more than we needed to, because I’d parked in the wrong place.
At one point, just before we got to the theater, I turned on my heel – he was walking 10 yards behind me – and snarled, “I could just see this movie tomorrow by myself!”
“I know,” he said. “I’d like to see it.”
So we went to the movie. We had a nice time. We came out of it okay, but I am now wary of my own abilities to do anything right.
Sometimes, really, I think I have a psychological disorder. But I will keep trying.
The family was in the car for more than three hours yesterday, and Dylan texted the whole time. We got home and he texted for another hour. It’s like there’s glue on his fingers, causing them to be constantly stuck to the cell phone keyboard.
I finally bellowed, “THAT’S IT! You have 10 minutes and then NO MORE TEXTING TODAY!”
Bill and I know that Dylan’s behavior is normal. We know it’s the same issue that kept our parents screaming at us while we sat in the kitchen, tied to a corded phone, mumbling and giggling.
This is what people at this age do.
But I wasn’t prepared for the text that Dylan sent me after my bellow:
Mom, I dont think you know what im talking about when i text. I have saved two peoples lives by texting. Ive had almost my only communication to my friends by texting. Ive stopped 4 people from cutting from texting. And relieved the depression of 6 people by texting. I have had people to talk to when im sad or angry. They understand me because they are going through what im going through. I feel safe and happy when im texting. And when you tell me that im being obnoxious and rude and “ignoring you” by doing it, it makes me feel awful for feeling that way.
I read this, then sat still, stunned.
What a sad commentary on what kids deal with today. My son is saving lives. He is helping his friends. He is there for them, in a dramatic way. What he is doing matters. And in his world, it matters more than anything in my world.
I want him to be able to talk to his friends – and now, even more so. I don’t want to hold him back from his blossoming social life, or from his fitting role as human angel. So it took me awhile to think about what really bothers me about his texting. Finally, I wrote back:
U r right. I dont know. Because u dont tell me. U dont share these things with me anymore ever. U may be doing wonderful things. I have no doubt that u r. But u dont talk to me about what is going on with u. U dont talk to me about what is going on with ur friends. And its got to be a lot for u to handle on ur own.
Yes, I am hurt that u ignore me when u r texting but I think its important to have friends and be in contact with them as often as u need to be. I guess what I am saying is that I would be a lot more ok with the amount of texting if, sometimes, u would also share ur life with me. Not just ur grades and playing board games, but real stuff that goes on with u. U should also feel safe with me. And I am not perfect but I am working very hard at being a good listener and not just telling u what to do all the time. If u would give me a chance to listen, I could. I am not asking u to share secrets or tell on ur friends. I just wish u would try sometimes to still talk to me too.
And there it was – the crux of the issue. I want him to expand his world, but I want him to know I am there for him, too.
I didn’t get a response to my (labor of love) text. But that’s okay, because I know he heard me. I was speaking his language.