I was standing at the checkout line in no-frills
waiting to pay for my groceries.
There was a mother with her 10 year old boy in line behind me
and a few other people behind them.
The boy was looking very morose and grumpy.
He had his face in his hands and was
staring at the screen of his portable DVD player.
An Apologetic Mother
His mother was apologizing to the crowd that was around
saying that she only bought him this player because
she is on the road a lot and needs to keep him quiet.
She seemed very apologetic and almost embarrassed
by her child being so engrossed in his video
and also because of his surly mood.
Here Comes the Stomach Punch
I think at some point the kid must have had enough
of her apologies and he lifted himself up off
the conveyor belt that he was leaning on and
punched his mother full force in the stomach.
Now keep in mind this is not a three year old punching,
it is a 10 year old and that is going to hurt.
I’m guessing this is not the first time this is happened
because she seemed ready for it and kind of jumped out of the way.
The punch just glanced off of her
and I don’t think she was too badly hurt.
Back To Business As Usual
He then turned around and sank his face
back down into his DVD player ignoring everybody.
I think the crowd was kind of in shock at this
odd display of aggression and violence.
Everyone averted their eyes or looked down at their phones.
To her credit the mother did not get angry or yell at the boy.
She did however resume apologizing to anyone who would listen.
The whole thing was quite a spectacle.
As the mother and I were each bagging our groceries
I ended up standing next to the kid.
Now in a situation like this
I just cannot resist interfering
if I have the option to do it in a
respectful and safe way.
So I turned to the young man and asked him
what was he watching?
At first he just grunted at me,
but I asked him again saying that I really liked
his DVD player and was interested in what he was watching.
My Sincerity Came Through
He kind of looked at me and I think at that moment
he could feel my sincerity and genuine interest.
Suddenly his eyes lit up and
he started telling me all about his show.
Then he started telling me about the DVD player
and how much he liked it.
He told me where he bought it,
how much it cost and
he encouraged me to get the extended warranty
if I ever buy one myself.
He was showing off a bit that he managed to get
four different DVD players when something
went wrong because of the warranty.
Thirsty for Connection
It really only took a moment of non-judgemental,
genuine connection for him to open up to me.
I could tell he was aching for attention.
He wanted someone to see how special he was.
He was deeply nourished by the experience
and his armour cracked open at the slightest prodding.
He Wanted To Involve His Mom In The Connection
When his mom noticed us talking she came over.
He started telling her to tell me more details about the warranty.
(He really loved that warranty!)
She was quite shocked to see him suddenly
in such a good mood and I’m guessing she didn’t
want to waste it so she did.
I got the whole lowdown on this wonderful warranty.
The two of them then walked out of the store
and I watched them make their way to the car.
She had her hand around his shoulders
and they were laughing and chatting.
It seemed like both of their moods were transformed.
Kids Want Harmony
Young people do not want to be
in conflict with their parents.
They want harmony, connection and love.
In many ways we force them into situations
where are they feel like they have to be
aggressive in order to protect themselves.
A Little Effort Can Produce Dramatic Results
This example in the No-Frills really highlighted for me
how little effort is required to deeply connect
with kids and open their hearts.
If you are having struggles with your young people
and it feels like there’s a disconnect between you
try to keep this in mind.
Try focusing on building connection
through acceptance and validation
rather than being concerned about controlling their behaviour.
The Challenge of Change
This simple and very difficult change in focus
can produce miraculous results.
A shift in priority is not easy because
we must be continuously re-evaluating
our thoughts words and actions.
If we can do this however, we are making a big step
towards transforming our relationship with our children.