It was a sunny day in July and the boys and I were out enjoying a friend's pool. Side note: one or both of my boys always has a ball of some sort in his hands. Not sometimes, but always. Today, the ball of choice was a tennis ball held by my oldest.
So it should not have been a surprise when I heard the sound of glass shattering.
But the sound left me immobilized for a moment, thinking if I lay still, that maybe I was dreaming. After a few moments of silence (silence is NEVER a good sign when boys are around) I lifted the towel that was over my face and peeked out with one eye. Somehow, I think the one-eye-peek makes you think you will see only half the damage.
To cut to the chase- my oldest son had managed to break an antique light fixture that the homeowners had shipped from Mexico. Antique Glass From Mexico. Yep, a trip to Home Depot was not going to fix this little issue. Oops.
My point though is this: with boys, nothing is safe. Nada. Zero. Zip.
Not only is the physical realm not safe, but also their emotional being, their spiritual being, the whole entity of what being a boy entails. Boys are really good at appearing like they are okay while silently dealing with heavy issues. We must NEVER assume that they are fine. They carry things, they feel things. But they can also be real good at hiding things, bottling up things.
So what are we doing to make sure they talk? share? feel? We must stand in the gap and ask the questions they need to hear. If they will not share openly, you must drag every morsel of information out of them. You must drag them out of their rooms, off of that field, out of their own head space, and take the time to create moments, memories, and life. Sometimes, I find myself in a full sweat after one conversation. The struggle is REAL.
But they need to talk and learn to share emotions in their own unique way. Silence is not code for all is well. It can actually be the opposite.
Here are 4 Ways to Get the Boys Talking
- Ask Open Ended Questions. If you ask a simple yes/no question, that will be the answer you will receive. However, try asking questions that cannot be answered so easily. Here are some examples: What did you do in math class today? What did you eat at lunch? Who sat at your lunch table? What drills did you do at baseball practice? What did your coach say?
- Gather Around the Dinner Table. Do it. No matter what. Make dinner a priority. A thousand things will happen to try to pull you away from this. This does not mean you have to cook. We have had some of the best conversations over a box of pizza and wings. I mean- who has time to cook when you are attempting to get the boys to talk? There is no better way to get them to open up than in the evening at dinner. So grab some paper plates and make this your top priority.
3. Ask Fun "What If" Type Questions at Dinner: examples that have come up recently with us: if you could eat dinner with 3 people, alive or dead, who would they be? One of my boys said: Albert Einstein, Jackie Robinson, and Rosa Parks. Just What In The World? I was blown away and so proud of his answer. Another night, the question was: if you could create a new family tradition, what would it be? My youngest suggested going for a family walk after dinner, which we did, and saw the most beautiful moon that we would have missed otherwise.
4.Play High/Low. Everyone takes a turn and shares one high from the day and one low from the day. This is great if you are running low on time. This can also be in the car, waiting in line, anywhere. You will be surprised at how much info can be gleaned from this- try it today!
I promise this is like magic. It can turn bad moods into good ones, it will allow you to hear insights from your children that you would not know otherwise. You will be surprised and delighted at the same time. Just the other night this question was posed by my teenager- the teenager who keeps everything surface level and can sometimes be hard to read- (drum roll please): What talent do you have and how can you use this talent to give God the glory?
BE STILL MY HEART. I rest my case.......