Monday, 30 July 2012

Things I am not very good at: Handling uncommunicative males

The men in my family constantly leave me starved for information. (I have not named them in order to protect their identity). It is bad enough that my husband falls asleep while I am talking, but my son also seemed to learned from a very early age that telling his mother things was something to be avoided at all costs. From the moment he could talk, or should I say grunt, most of our conversations would go like this:
Me: “Hi dear.  How was your day?”
Him: “Grunt.”
Me: “What did you do today?”
Him: “Grunt.”
Me: “Who was there?”
Him: “Grunt.”
Me: “What did you learn?”
Him: “Grunt.”
I learned to ask more indirect questions such as "how did you like your lunch?" or "how many times did you kick the soccer ball?" but after he had said "why can't I have money to buy my lunch like Matthew, instead of boring sandwiches?" and "I would have scored but Kevin didn't kick the ball to me," the well of information would run dry.
His sister, on the other hand,would tell me who said what to whom, and what they were wearing when they said it, and where they were exactly standing at the time, and what their mother's hair looked like  when she dropped them off, and what she had learned that day and how she had spent every minute, and how she had felt the whole time she was doing it. Oh the joy of female comunication! But for my son I felt I had to come up with a more creative strategy; a fantastic plan that I can proudly say worked brilliantly...exactly once!

It all began one school holidays when they were in New Zealand staying with their grandparents and we were back in Jordan, and I was missing them terribly. I had a nice chatty and loving conversation with my daughter on the phone. However, when it came time to talk to her brother, I could hear him telling his grandfather that he was too busy watching TV and eating a pie. Amid many grumbles and moans he finally he came to the phone.
Me: “Hi darling how are you?” 
Him: “Grunt.”
Me: “What have you been up to dear? Are you having a good time?”
Him: “Nothing grunt much.”
Me: “How is Nana and Poppa, what have you been doing with them?”
Him: “Grunt.”
Me: “I miss you honey.”
Him: “Yeah…grunt mumble…can I go now?”
I hung up feeling sad and miserable, convinced that I was the worst mother on the planet because he didn’t love me and wasn’t missing me one bit. I felt sorry for myself for a few hours and then decided to do what all mothers should do in these situations and that is manipulate things to suit my own needs. I sent my son an email and told him the next time I called all he had to do was read his lines. He didn’t have to think or stop eating his pie and could watch TV at the same time.
Our next phone conversation went something like this:
Me:  "Hi darling, how are you? I love you and miss you."
Him: "Hi mum, how are you? I love and miss you too; you are the best mother in the world."
Me: "That’s nice, I love you too dear. What have you been up to?"
Him: "Nothing much because it is no fun here without you. I love you and miss you and you are the best mother in the world."
Me: "That's sweet dear. Is Nana feeding you properly?"
Me: "No Mum, her cooking can’t hold a candle to yours. I love and miss you and you are the best mother in the world."
And on it went for a few more lines, ending with how much he loved me and missed me and that I was the best mother in the world. By the end of the conversation, we were both laughing and I hung up feeling much better. In fact I felt like I was the best mother world!!                                                                     

I never tried that again but I did learn a valuable lesson. Don’t expect too much of a 10 year old boy when he is eating a pie and watching television (actually, don’t expect too much him at any age) and why did I need reassurance from what I already knew?  I may not know a thing that goes on in his head, but I was the best damn mother he was ever going to have, and we both knew it. 

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