Over the past several months, I’ve found myself in an almost constant misunderstanding. Not a fighting or quarreling state – not an anger state – just misunderstanding state over and over again with various relationships, job struggles, church struggles, etc. I just keep saying, mostly to my husband – “I just don’t understand” – “I don’t get it”.
To further help you understand my misunderstandings, I’ll provide you with a short list of my most recent frustrations….
- I don’t understand common core math – both its purpose and logic. It makes me look stupid in front of my child. (also a little tip for parents out there who share this position – Google it – my child’s book bag contains no actual books or examples – just Google it)
- I don’t understand why paper towel dispensers only provide enough paper towel to dry a chicken’s foot. I have two hands – TWO – and when one of those evil machines gives me a tiny piece of paper towel to dry two hands, I will – let me repeat – I will stand there and take at least one more than I need just to prove my point. No one actually sees this, but I feel better when leaving a public restroom. And, don’t even get me started on the devil hand dryers that don’t actually dry your hands!!!
- I don’t understand people who don’t eat spicy foods.
- I don’t understand why we all can’t just get along.
- I don’t understand why my church that has been a place of grace, community, and so many other things to my family is going through an unbelievable time of transition.
- I don’t understand why some marriages fall apart and some, like mine, are spared.
- I don’t understand racism, prejudice, and judgment. I do understand that it usually stems from fear, but what are we so scared of?
- I don’t understand addiction and why it holds so many people captive.
- And, finally, I don’t understand 7-year old boys.
There, I said it. Confession: over the past 6 months I have increasingly been unable to understand my own child. He’s seven. He’s silly. He loves bathroom humor. He loves video games and really pointless TV shows. He’s got enough energy for three children and he’s at an age that I just don’t understand. I mean, I get all the important stuff. I know his preferences, his little dreams, what he needs, and what he wants. But, I’ve recently had a hard time with the connection. We’ve been on different pages – his behavior towards me is sometimes less than acceptable and my patience is the same. He’s changed from a little boy to a big boy and what used to connect us is no longer working.
I even had a conversation with my husband about this just a few weeks ago. This was super hard for me because I’m not one to admit defeat quickly. But since I’ve never been a 7-year-old boy, I begged for help. His advice – show interest in what he likes. Well that seems simple enough, but when one is terrible at flying drones and playing video games – not so much!!! Nonetheless, I’m trying.
What I’ve learned in the short few weeks since that conversation is priceless. This little boy has taught me how to fly the drone, not very well but it’s flying. I’ve learned a few new dance moves and dinosaur names. He’s taught me how to build a Minecraft house, play a goat game, and I’ve even participated in the bathroom humor. And, you know what, both of our behavior has changed. I’m more patient and he’s more obedient. Imagine that!!!
The point of all of this is when you are in a state of misunderstanding, you’ve got a lot of learning to do. You may never understand the reasons why something is the way it is, but if you want to connect with that thing or that someone you don’t understand you must be willing to learn new things. Here’s a few tips from my recent revelation….
- LISTEN. Let me repeat – LISTEN. James 1:19 teaches us to be “quick to listen” and “slow to speak”. There have been times when I did not stop to listen to my young son. I saw an action and immediately disciplined. Maybe his wild silly behavior just needed to be redirected or maybe I just needed to pay attention – OUCH!!! SLOW DOWN and listen. Here’s a little public service announcement for all the leaders out there (this includes all parents): those under your authority need to know that you hear them. They need less talk!!! More listening!!! Proverbs 18:13 also gives us a warning: “He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame”. I’ll just leave that right there for you to ponder.
- Ask for help – from someone who has been there and is in a position to give it. That’s why I asked my husband. I’ve never been a 7 year old boy – he has. I’ve also asked my son to help me learn the things he likes. Let me tell you, when you ask a little boy to help you fly a drone, he will light up like a Christmas tree.
- Don’t accept the notion that “this is the way it is”. Its easier for me to say, “I’m not used to boys because I only have sisters” or “it’s a stage” than to admit that I need to change. Try for goodness sake!!! I may never completely understand 7-year-old boys, but I will try my best to make a better connection. As he changes, so will my try.
I’ll leave you with one quick little story that hopefully demonstrates all of the above. This actually happened a few months ago and if I’d stayed with these actions maybe my recent learning curve would not have been so steep. My son came into my room and said, “I’ve learned a new song”. He then started singing “Baby Got Back”. He only knew a few words as he had surely only heard another child’s rendition. I was then faced with quite the dilemma – Do I sharply discipline because of the inappropriateness of this song or do I break it down right there and sing all the lyrics. I chose the latter. All I can say is – MIND BLOWN. He looked at me in complete shock and said, “Mom, that was awesome”. Now I’m not recommending that you teach your children 90’s rap, but do believe in hidden opportunities. He is still talking about the time that mom went straight gangsta in her bedroom. It reminds me of the time when my own mother did the twist like a pro at my sister’s wedding and when my dad knew who Queen was – MIND BLOWN=CONNECTION.
I’m sure this son of mine, and my daughter too, will go through thousands of moments of misunderstanding over the next few years. I will be constantly listening, asking for help and trying hard to understand them as my parents surely did for me. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll reach out to the paper towel dispenser company to clear up our misunderstanding too!