Lessons from a Teenage Boy

Image credit: http://malibumom.com/2013/03/16/whats-for-dinner-mom/

Image credit: http://malibumom.com

Every day Kyle, my teenage son, asks me two questions. “What’s for dinner?” and “Is it going to be good?” The first question I only find mildly annoying when I don’t actually have a plan for dinner. The second one, however, I take as a personal attack. Every. Single. Time.

People come into our lives as teachers. I would say this is especially true of our children. I believe Kyle is in my life to teach me patience, acceptance, and most of all, how not to take things personally.

Kyle and I are very different people. I am open, compassionate, optimistic. He is bossy, opinionated, cynical. If The Odd Couple were a mother and son duo, we would be it.

Even as a child, Kyle was very different from his older brother, Mitch. Mitch was very sweet and loving. He felt remorse when he got in trouble for something. And he always wanted the people he loved to be happy…he still does. Kyle, on the other hand, has always been a bit like a grumpy old man. He wasn’t much of a snuggler, hated having his picture taken, and got genuinely pissed off at being disciplined. Both boys are dangerously smart with wicked senses of humor. But, while Mitch taught me about love, Kyle is teaching me about me.

Recently, when I flew off the handle because Kyle asked me, for about the millionth time, if dinner was going to be good he told me, “You shouldn’t take this so personally.” I really lost it! I told him to sit down, shut up and eat his dinner. There may or may not have been some cursing on my part.

I felt bad, of course. I always do. I apologized for yelling at him. His response was a casual, “It’s okay.” I’m fairly certain he didn’t take my little outburst personally at all.

It didn’t hit me until the next morning. Taking things too personally is something I’ve struggled with…particularly in my relationships with men. I realized in that moment I have the perfect opportunity to practice NOT taking things so personally with Kyle every single day.

What if, when he asks if dinner is going to be good, I could take that as just a question, rather than a personal attack on either my intention or my culinary skills? What if, instead of getting so defensive, I could answer lightly, “I hope so!” or “That’s the plan!” or “Nope!”

For an entire year after I first read Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, I practiced the agreement “Don’t Take Anything Personally” religiously. But I worked on it with people other than my children or a significant other. Now it seems I’m getting another opportunity that’s a little closer to home.

So I’m going to use this daily opportunity as an experiment of sorts. To see if I can stop making that simple question mean something negative about me and take it for what it is: a question. This will take some practice on my part. Kyle knows how to push my buttons. But I can see the benefits in my current and future relationships will be HUGE! If nothing else, Kyle will have to figure out a new way to get under my skin. And that will make this totally worthwhile 😉

……………

I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Meagan
    Mar 19, 2013 @ 19:13:44

    How did you practice not taking things personally, if not by living it? The people who are a part of our lives do give us the opportunity to practice the things we need to learn….I guess that they give us a chance to practice the things we already do well too, we just don’t notice that as much because those things aren’t annoying…or hard! The issues we are going through with my mother right now, are giving me a great opportunity learn to let go of the things that are not in my control…not easy for me!
    Of course, the thing you should know is that if you can master taking that question as a question, you may get to practice something new and harder! Be ready!!

    Reply

    • Shannon McDonough
      Mar 20, 2013 @ 15:38:19

      That is how I practiced it…by living it 🙂 But Kyle was much younger then, so at the time it mostly came up with my boss, coworkers and ex-husband. Everything is in our lives to teach us something. I guess the trick is being open to the lesson 🙂

      Reply

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