How Many Time Do I Have To Tell You

Lessons on Humanity from a Three Six Year Old

As a parent, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said:

“How many times do I have to tell you…”

Six year old Jett was upset because he had to re-do his homework.

“How many time do I have to tell you that if you do it neatly the first time, you won’t have to re-do it.”

Finally, he got so upset that he threw the pencil and eraser off the desk. I sat calmly and said, “I guess that means no iPad.”

This pushed him over the edge. He started screaming. So I sat down at my desk and started reading blogs. He walked over to me and screamed in my face.

“You better back off, because you are getting Daddy angry,” I said in a calm, but firm voice.

“You hurt my feelings,” he screamed.

“How did I hurt your feelings? I didn’t hurt your feelings; I just tried to get you to do your homework.”

“You ignored me,” he screamed.

“I didn’t ignore you. I just walked away when you started screaming.”

“You were rude to me,” the screams were getting louder.

“YOU WERE RUDE to ME. Don’t you understand that screaming in someone’s face is rude?”

“YOU ARE BEING RUDE TO ME RIGHT NOW!” he yelled as he “stood with fists.”

Suddenly, I flashed back to a post that I published less than 24 hours prior to this argument. In the post, I waxed how Jett’s 3 year old brother taught me to “apologize quickly, even if you were not at fault” and “let others know when they have hurt you.”

Jett and Fox with Buddha

My Teachers

Jett was letting me know that I had hurt him, yet I was refusing to apologize. Three year old Fox was taking a bath right next to the office Jett and I were arguing in. I could hear his thoughts, “How many times do I have to tell you to walk the walk, Mr. Talk-the-Talk?”

I grabbed Jett and pressed his heart next to mine. “I’m sorry that I was rude to you. Thank you for telling me how you felt. I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. I’m sorry I ignored you.”

Jett’s body softened like a stuffed animal. I could feel his heart embracing mine.

“Let’s finish this homework, so you can have some iPad time, OK?”

“OK, Daddy.”

Lessons learned:

  • Calm and collected are not the same as caring and attentive
  • If I want my boys to be compassionate, I have to honor their feelings even if I don’t understand or agree with them.
  • We all need to be reminded of lessons over and over
  • Heart to heart is the best medicine/discipline for raising kids

Lesson on Being Human from a 3 Year Old

I know it is a cliche to say that we learn as much from our children as they learn from us, but 3 year old Fox is different. From a very early age, we called him the “Little Buddha,” not just because he looked like a Buddha–large forehead, big long ears, and long half-open/half-closed eyes, but also because he would just sit calmly and contently for long periods of time.

Fox Sitting

I can honestly say that I have learned as much from this little soul as I have from any enlightened master. Here are a few highlights: Continue reading

Beautiful Blogger Quotation: Geo Sans

Geo Poem

Geo Sans is an amazing poet/blogger. Check out his poetry here: http://geosans.wordpress.com/

The best thing about being Blog friends with Geo Sans is that he comments on your posts with poetry. How amazing is that? This was a comment to “Letter to My Enemy Within” post for the Monthly Peace Challenge. I see this poem as a recipe for love and happiness. Thank you, Geo Sans.

This post is part of BBQ—Beautiful Blog Quotations.

Feel free to join the fun.

  • Take a quotation from a favorite blogger
  • Create a BBQ post with the quotation
  • Link back to the blogger you quoted
  • Tag your post BBQLUV
  • Link to other BBQLUV posts (optional)

BBQ logo

Letter to My Enemy Within

Dear Kozo,

Your arrogance and lack of compassion have made more enemies for us than friends.

Your selfishness and lack of empathy have sunk our career, nearly ruined our marriage, and destroyed our reputation.

Despite these failings, I forgive you. I forgive your sharp tongue, your lack of impulse control, and your insecurities. I forgive because I don’t want to be like you–lacking empathy. I forgive because by accepting you, I engulf you. I make your need to be special unnecessary.

I don’t just forgive you; I love you. I love you because by loving you I love all my enemies. I love you because I understand how all your trespasses were a desperate search for love. All your attacks were a cry for help. All your hostility stemmed from a desire to be held.

I will always love you because you are not just a part of me; you are a part of humanity. You are Godliness, Christ Consciousness, and Buddha Nature all at once. You deserve my love like a baby deserves a mother’s love. You will always be my baby. I try to lead by example, so that one day you will be a compassionate man.

With All My Heart,

Kozo

banner

This post is part of the Bloggers for Peace Monthly Peace Challenge: Love Thy Enemy.

For more information on Bloggers for Peace click on the logo in the right hand menu.

Thank you for reading, smiling, and/or sharing.

Label Me A Loving Abuser

My 6 year old son would not get out of bed until 7:45 this morning. We have to leave for school at 8:15. Then he wouldn’t eat his eggs since he was distracted by his Pokemon cards, so I threw the cards in the garbage. This is when his meltdown started. It was 8 AM, so I asked him to put some clothes on which he threw back in my face. This is when my meltdown started. I grabbed him and put him in the car in his pajamas. Then I dragged him without shoes or a jacket in front of the whole school to his classroom. He was kicking and screaming the whole way, which is why I couldn’t put his shoes or jacket on.

The whole time I was seeing tunnel vision. I did not notice all the other kids laughing at my son or all the parents aghast at me dragging him across the rain drenched pavement without shoes. When we got to the classroom, I awoke from my sleep state and realized how much my son was suffering.

Onelove photoIt is International Label Day at Rarasaur’s house, so it only seems appropriate that I wear the label of abuser or bad father which is quite different from the photo I sent Rara with “LUV” scribbled across my forehead. But like I told Rara in the comments, “Labels like the ego are neither good nor bad. They are a necessary step in claiming our identities so that we can give them up to reach a higher consciousness or what Fr. Richard Rohr would call the Second Half of Life.”

One way I’m breaking the label of abuser is by how I treated my son after I realized that I was being irrational. As the survivor of physical abuse, I speak from experience when I say that although the beatings hurt, they were not the cause of the deepest emotional scars. What really tore me up as a child was the lack of compassion from my step-father and mother AFTER the beatings. No one ever comforted me and explained to me why I was beaten. No one put an arm around my shoulder and told me that the beatings were done out of love.

Jett at school

Photo of Jett Post-Meltdown

So I told the teacher that Jett would be late and we went back home. At home, I let my son pick out his favorite shirt. I washed his feet, fully aware of the religious connotations of this action, and warmed up his half-eaten breakfast. I explained to him how sorry I was for taking him to school in his pajamas, but also how sad I was that he refused to listen to me. I told him that I loved him, but I needed his cooperation if we were going to get to school on time. I also told him how to handle any teasing that the other kids might dish out today. I will make sure to check in with him after school and honor any shame he felt in front of the other kids at school.

Being a compassionate man is hard. Raising compassionate boys is even harder. Social conditioning and past scars take constant vigilance to overcome. The good news is that compassion is a skill that can be learned over time. We can heal ourselves and heal others in the process.

Although I am not proud of my actions today, I am thankful for the growth I displayed and the hug my son gave me when he finally got to his classroom.

Thank you for reading, empathizing, and/or sharing.

Have you transcended your labels? How? Please share.

 

 

Re-Authoring Our Lives

This weekend at Interchange Counseling Institute, Steve Bearman introduced us to Narrative Therapy. We learned how to help clients re-author their predominant stories by “thickening” marginalized stories. We often get caught in one story that dictates our perception,self-worth, and mood. Examining the cracks in this predominant story often lead to awareness of a more preferable story.

“What limits people is that they don’t have the fucking nerve or imagination to star in their own movie, let alone direct it. Yuck….It’s a wonderful time to be alive. As long as one has enough dynamite.”~Tom Robbins

Part of this weekend was writing and sharing our bio. When I wrote my bio, a book on my bookshelf that I haven’t read yet haunted my peripheral vision–Radical Honesty. I wrote my story leaving nothing out. When I shared this story with a group of three other counselors-in-training, I buried my face in the printed copy almost out of shame. I revealed how I had spent a large part of my adult life hurting others. How I had stabbed loved ones in the heart with my words. How all this hurt I brought into the world created a karmic tidal wave that almost drowned me. I ended with how hitting rock bottom allowed me to set my sights for the heavens.

When I finished reading, I peeked up to see three smiling faces. It felt like I had confessed all my sins to a compassionate God who had nothing but love for me. One of the group members gave me a hug. Another called me courageous. What I realized is that often the tragedy of our lives is actually a story of hope and redemption. Below are a few quotes from wise people who have a similar take on re-authoring.

  • “The Art of Suffering goes together with the Art of Happiness” “No Mud/No Lotus”~Thich Nhat Hanh
  • “Before the ‘truth sets you free’ it tends to make you miserable.”~Fr. Richard Rohr
  •  “Many of your greatest successes you thought were failures. And many of your greatest failures, you thought were successes.”~Marianne Williamson

To be sincere does not mean to be perfect. In fact,the very effort to be perfect is itself insincere, because it is a way of avoiding seeing yourself as you are right now. To be able and willing to see yourself as you are, with all of your imperfections and illusions, requires genuine sincerity and courage. If we are constantly trying to hide from ourselves, we will never be able to awaken from our illusion of self.~Adyashanti

I’m hoping you can re-author some of your stories. I feel a lot lighter since I did the exercise. Here are some suggestions:

  • Can you see part of your story as a preparation for a launch? Is a low point simply the loading for an acceleration towards the good, like stretching a rubber band right before you let it fly?
  • Is hitting rock bottom laying the foundations for a rebound in the right direction?
  • Is the tragedy of your life a glimpse into the comedy of life in general?
  • Is your need for “closure” an opening to a new way of loving or acceptance?

In no way do I want to disregard your story. In fact, narrative therapy does not try to erase the predominant story; instead it offers a new angle to view one’s life. A marginal story is meant to transcend and include the predominant story.

You’ve probably seen this before, but if you haven’t, ignore everything above and hit play.

Thank you for reading, smiling, and/or sharing.

Have you ever re-authored your predominant story? What did it do for you? Please share.

Compassion Can Make You More Attractive–Thich Nhat Hanh Re-load

A week ago, I published an article about a conversation I had with Thich Nhat Hanh. Thanks to the generosity of Dr. James Doty and the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, I am able to share the video of this short interview with you. To see the whole Conversation on Compassion with Thich Nhat Hanh go to: http://ccare.stanford.edu/videos/conversations-on-compassion-thich-nhat-hanh/

For more interviews with compassionate men visit http://peaceinrelationships.com/offerings/