I was rude to my 14 year old son, Ben, a few nights ago. We (Gwen, Ben and I) were watching a DVD movie and I commented about a place in the movie where I thought one of the characters was rude to another. Ben was playing on his Nintendo DS at the time and asked what I was talking about. While the movie was still playing, I tried to reconstruct the part that I had commented on. He didn't get it. I started to get impatient. I thought, "He's playing his game. He's not paying attention to the movie." I stopped the movie and rewound it to the part I was talking about and re-played it. Ben got snarky and said "And the problem is?" I thought, "Now he's being rude!" and said "You're not paying attention. You lose the right to ask questions!"
Gwen stepped in and said, "I disagree! There's never a wrong time to ask questions. You are working on the computer, Ben's playing his game and I'm reading at the same time we're watching this movie. YOU are being rude! You shouldn't shut Ben down from asking questions. You've done that before, but don't do it to him." I countered "I may be working on the computer, but I'm not asking questions!" A wrestling match ensued between my flesh and my spirit. I wanted to defend myself. I wanted to debate and show how my perspective was valid. I agonized about how it was possible that Ben didn't see how the character in the movie was being rude. I didn't want to admit that I had been rude. I wanted to focus on how I thought Ben had been disrespectful to me. Part of me didn't appreciate that Gwen was pointing out my faults in front of Ben.
I took a breath and made the effort to reorient my brain and spirit. Gwen was right. I had shut her and my older sons down in so many ways. What I had done before didn't work. I was repeating an old behavior. We were all multi-tasking while watching the movie. I was being hypocritical by faulting Ben for playing his game while I was balancing the checkbook on the computer. The irony of being rude while pointing out rudeness was not lost on me. It was only my pride that cringed at having my faults exposed.
I was able to regroup and answer Ben's question and he did understand why the character in the movie was being rude. The movie played on. I'm embarrassed to tell you that Gwen had to prompt me to apologize to Ben. I did. It's difficult when my flesh wants to take control. Pride is a formidable opponent. Later, Gwen reminded me how important it is to acknowledge my offense and apologize as quickly as possible. Having the perspective that Gwen is my help to become a more Christlike person really helps. She truly is prompting me to become a better person. I obviously need the help.
Your partner in Crime Prevention, Kim