Tag Archives: uncommunicative

A Boy and his Math

The boy is infuriatingly quiet.

“What’s wrong?” queries the mom.

Nothing.  I get nothing but silence….silence and that dreaded, deadpan stare of his through watery eyes.


The mom is feeling a little helpless and a certain amount of her own frustration.  “How on God’s green earth can I help you at all if you won’t speak?  SPEAK…..PLEASE!!

More silence and staring and wet eyes…..then, finally, the boy exhales “I’m frustrated”.

“Frustrated?  Well, I’ve got experience with frustrated…..we can deal with that”.  And out it comes; in short, breathy bursts….”it’s the math I did yesterday.  That multiplying double-digits stuff.  I didn’t do well.”  multiplication

That’s taken a lot out of the boy and he leans into the mom’s waiting arms, silently shedding his tears.

Downstairs, the mom parks herself beside the boy and explains,

and coaxes….

and encourages.

The boy continues to give into….to almost feed on…..his emotions.  The pile of crumpled Kleenex grows; eventually he’s using his arm to wipe his snotty nose.

Working at keeping her own feelings of frustration at bay, the mom asks how all that’s working for him.

“Ya feeling good?  I understand you’re frustrated and struggling a bit, but are all the tears helping any?  What are you thinking about?  Are you continuing to tell yourself how much you hate the multiplying double-digits stuff and how hard it is and how you can’t do it….if you keep that up, well, you’ve little hope of believing anything else!  How about you change what you’re thinking?  How about you tell yourself that it’s just multiplying….you know how to multiply!  How about you tell yourself that you CAN do it and see how that goes for you.”

Without any idea of what is going on behind those blue eyes, the mom continues to oversee as the boy does the multiplying double-digits stuff.  She offers encouragement here and there…..she can tell he’s getting it and eventually there’s proof in a page done without any mistakes.  Much is made of it.


Later in the day, long after the school work is done, the mom is busily doing mom-stuff when she has a thought.

The frustrating, uncommunicative, deadpan stare and wet eyes thing that the boy does?  She does it, too.  Oh, it might look a little different on her, but like the boy, rather than speak, she most often hides.  She is fearful of rejection; in search of acceptance, she seeks to please.  She stuffs and then she stuffs some more…. and on some days, her eyes seem continually wet and she feels all tight and she can’t find the words.

And all the while, the Father is there, ready, willing and well able to help; loving, coaxing and encouraging.  Patiently waiting for her to speak, in whatever way she chooses.

Most often, He uses the boy, or one of the Others, to speak to the mom.  To show her….with so much to learn, she thinks it’s why she had so many.


Sunday Morning Dust-up

You would think I would understand.

I’d been telling him for WEEKS that his hair must be cut before his sister’s quickly approaching wedding…..and this morning was the time. His last cut, courtesy of his sister-in-law, was a Mohawk that had been trimmed a time or two and was now terribly outgrown and certainly far too long to spike up even if he’d asked; one long hank hung over his eye and he’d taken to tossing his head to one side in order to see.  Another “hunk” of it hung down the middle of his neck and was long enough to braid.  Surprisingly, he was not deterred by the “girly” jokes, and had on a couple occasions proclaimed that he was going to grow a “rat tail”.

Uh, gross!! Not if I have anything to say about it….AND I DO!!!

The uncooperative and uncommunicative 10 year old sat teary-eyed and stone faced while I buzzed and trimmed and made frustratingly exaggerated movements when I asked him to drop his head one way, or “relax and just lay your head in my hand, Dec”. When I was done, I removed the plastic table cloth (classy) I’d used for a cape only to discover he had hair all over him anyway. He hates the itchy hair; always has.

“Ah, there’s my boy”, said I. “That looks MUCH better!”

No response. Oh, those watery, red eyes were saying PLENTY but he’d spoken not a word. And no shy little Mona Larry grin for the compliment, either.

He had predetermined that he would hate this newest version of himself. He ran to the bathroom where I could hear his continued disdain via the slamming shower door. The quick shower off stretched into something much longer than it needed to be and I could feel my frustration and lack of empathy for the boy growing by the minute. At some point, the little blonde one reported that he was out of the shower, but in the bathroom, crying.


I went upstairs to report the boy’s ridiculous behaviour to his father, who was immersed in something and not terribly concerned with my discontentment at his son’s actions. It was hair for crying out loud!  It would grow back!!  Who did he think he was…..Sampson??

When next I saw him he was emerging from his room, a hat shoved securely on his head.

(Insert eye roll here)  I was unimpressed.

“You’re NOT wearing that to church” and I pulled on the brim of the hat and “invited” him into my bedroom where I proceeded to probe him with questions while admonishing him to “speak”. I got nothing, just a stare from those red, watery, hurt eyes.  Exasperated, I asked him if he was ticked due to the lack of his choice in the matter or if he just really liked the long hair. My heart broke a wee bit when he answered me by holding up two fingers.

He really just liked the hair.

Frustration and anger melted. I told him that each of his older brothers had at one time or another decided to grow out their hair and he could certainly do it again.  Still silent, he came in close and I opened up to him and we hugged. Eventually, he quietly spoke into my shoulder and told me he didn’t hate me for cutting his hair (a relief).  I apologized for my lack of understanding; I am, after all, the adult.

There are few ways in which a 10 year old boy can express himself in terms of his appearance, and I was reminded that my boy-child was growing up. I have often thought and at times said out loud that this particular son of mine is “his father’s boy”, which anyone with kids knows actually means he’s not at all like me.  This morning, however, it was myself I saw.  The emotion, the thoughts, the feelings; there was a lot going on behind those eyes of his. The struggle to speak, the fear of putting it all into words “just right”, well, he is his momma’s boy too.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time today thinking about and being thankful for our dust up.  I can be thankful that it was as simple as hair while giving pause to the importance of listening, be it with my ears or my eyes, understanding and communicating well with my boy.  Perhaps next time I’ll use sign language; it worked for him.

Lord, help us.