How to Win An Argument

“If you think you are truly enlightened, go spend a weekend with your parents”~Ram Dass

I’ve found that my greatest teachers on the path to awakening are my closest family members. The other day  at a family gathering, I mentioned how I attended a seminar with Dr. Dan Siegel who mentioned a new study  that reveals how the college you choose for undergrad has no effect on your future success, happiness, or well-being.

“I don’t believe it,” said my cousin’s wife.

“Google and Facebook will not even think about hiring you if you don’t come from one of the top schools,” said another cousin.

I tried to counter with “you don’t have to work at Google or Facebook to be successful or happy,” but it fell on deaf ears. I found myself getting activated–my shoulders tensed, my heart-rate jumped.

After an antagonistic argument, I felt disconnected. I confessed my frustration to one of my cousins, who said, “every study has a different study that argues the exact opposite.”

I realized that if people aren’t ready to hear something, it doesn’t matter how much research, documentation, or authority you have, they won’t hear it. This reminded me of the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

My biggest realization was that I was egotistically trying to be the teacher to “students” who were not ready. I often make this mistake in blogging, writing, and everyday life. I try to “enlighten” other with my point of view. This might stem from some insecurity or need for attention, but what really matters is to become aware of this tendency and to stop.

I am dedicating myself to “be the change I wish to see in the world” and “preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.” I want this blog to be about serving others, not telling them what to do or how to live. Please let me know if I ever start preaching to you in any manner or imposing my point of view as the Truth. You are all my family. You are all my gurus. I appreciate your wisdom and guidance.

{{{Hugs}}} Kozo

This post is for the Monthly Peace Challenge: We Are Family. Specifically, it answers the prompt: “Tell a story about a family event that included “necessary suffering” and healing/forgiveness.”

Check out these other brave posts for peace:

Bad Dreams–A Letter to My Mother

Letter to My Mom

A Letter to Me

Valentine’s Day for Boys ONLY

What can we learn from the innocence of children about the true nature of Valentine’s Day?

Six year old Jett was writing out his Valentine’s Day cards this morning.

“One for Paul, Justin, Kwon, Ashton, Michael, Derek…”

“What about Lauren, Zandra, or Sophia? Don’t you want to give cards to some girls?” I prodded.

“No girls,” Jett said without even looking up.

At first I was a bit disappointed that Jett didn’t have a special girl to give a card to. One of the other parents told me that his first grader had made matching Rainbow Loom bracelets for he and his sweetheart. rainbowloomThen I caught myself in my socially conditioned heterosexuality.

When I was able to see the beauty of the present moment, I felt a touch of jealousy. My son had the freedom to express his love to all the boys that he knew. He had a shared bond with these boys that was not tainted by homophobia or puffed up versions of manliness.

I thought about Rarasaur’s post on an alternate form of Valentine’s Day and fantasized about a day where men could show love for each other without shame, aversion, or homophobia. Where we could hug each other tenderly, heart to heart rather than be forced to chest-bump or bro-hug. Where we could look into each others eyes and tell each other how much we appreciated everything that we have done for each other.

I thought about Macklemore’s song “Same Love”:

“When I was in the third grade, I thought that I was gay, because I could draw and my uncle was and I kept my room straight.”

Maybe the reason, Macklemore thought he was gay in the third grade was because he had genuine feelings for some of the boys that he called friends. I hope my son can keep his heart open to anyone who he has strong feelings for regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or culture.

I’m starting to experience what I’ve always heard, “Love is all you need.” Isn’t it a shame that we are socialized to stop loving half the population in the third grade?

Thanks for reading, smiling, and/or sharing.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my brothers and sisters.

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

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.

 

 

On the Road to Healing

I’m guestblogging today at Black Box Warnings—“a collective of bloggers who share their personal stories about mental and physical health, parenting, daily tribulations, and life’s little moments. An on-line community built around support, respect, and compassion.”

screen shot of black box warnings

Check out the post “Why Most Men Hate Depression, Especially in Others” by clicking here.

May you be free from suffering. May you find Peace and Joy.

{{{Hugs}}} Kozo

God Is In Your Poop and Pee

A Six Year Old’s Views on God

While I was driving, my son started talking about how God killed the dinosaurs, so I pulled over and recorded his lecture.

I love the open-mindedness and insight in lines like “God is everywhere, even in your poop and peep” or “God is like a copy, but God’s special.”

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

Do you remember your first thoughts about God? Please share.

How to wring compassion out of your child

IMG_0824My 6 year old son wants to quit his Kung Fu class. Last time I drove him to the Kung Fu studio, he threw a tantrum and wouldn’t get out of the car.

I threatened him by explaining how he would not get Christmas or Birthday presents for 5 years to pay off the non-refundable tuition we paid for the whole year.

I shamed him by telling his younger brother what a big boy he was for not “crying like a baby,” even though I am reading Brene Brown’s research on the horrible consequences of shaming.

You see, my son cries more than any child I know. If you mix his eggs with too much soy sauce, he cries. If someone closes the door to his room at night, he cries. If you don’t put enough toothpaste on his toothbrush, he cries. All this crying drove me crazy until I realized why. Continue reading

Getting Off the Poop Train

My 3 year old pooped in the tub, AGAIN.

Doodie: "It's no big deal"

I reacted like I normally do–I screamed bloody murder. What was different this time was that I was conscious of what I was doing.

It was as if I was standing outside of myself watching like a silent bystander. “What an idiot,” I mused as I watched me spiral into more and more anger as the poo contaminated water splashed all over the bathroom floor.

I became painfully aware that the screaming me was running a program without any thought or compassion. The screaming me was angry not because of the situation, but because it seemed like being angry was the proper response. The observer me noted that one of the reasons I was screaming had nothing to do with my son or the poo. I was screaming so that my wife who was in the kitchen could hear. I was screaming because I felt unappreciated for ALWAYS having to clean up the poo. Continue reading