I am from Mars, but I’m moving to Venus

November 9, 2010 at 6:38 am 10 comments

     C was sitting on a bar stool at the kitchen island the other night as I chopped vegetables for a recipe. We were talking about our upcoming move to North Carolina, and he once again expressed excitement about being somewhere new. Then he dropped this bombshell:

     “I’ll bet everyone will miss me. Everyone except S. He hates me.”

     C said this without affect or inflection in his voice. No clues to the emotions behind the words except the content of the words themselves.

     I stood there for a moment, waiting to see if he’d add anything else before I resorted to my usual “fixit” mode of being. You see, a long time ago I actually read the book Men are From Mars; Women are From Venus. Honestly? It perplexed me. Far more a “fixer” (Mars) than a “sympathizer” (Venus), I don’t really know how to do the sit and listen to a friend in need thing; I want to help her. I’m more about solutions and finding a way to make things work.

     Carefully, I spoke. “You know, C, a lot of times when people say they hate someone else, the person they really hate is themselves. S is probably very unhappy with who he is, and he’s taking that out on you. He probably doesn’t really hate you,” I said, matching C’s flat tone so as to calm any emotions that might be hiding beneath his words.

     Before I finished my thought, I saw the glazed look in his eye C gets when he’s done with a conversation. I vaguely knew, in that moment, that I had failed him with my response. Instead of just listening and asking C how he felt about S’s words, I tried to explain the situation to him. I tried to fix it; not S’s words, but C’s reaction to them.

      And that’s what I missed: C’s reaction. I blew it and missed my chance to have a real conversation about what it’s like to spend the day with someone who hates you, what it’s like to feel someone’s contempt simply because you have the nerve to exist, and what it’s actually like to be C. I won’t make that mistake again.

     The moment is over – it’s too late to go back and fix it now (yes, I get the irony here). But next time it comes up – and it will, I’m sure – I’m prepared to be all kinds of Venus.

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I will not be silent Wordless Wednesday

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Scott Baird  |  November 9, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Nice blog, again, Darcy. In fact I have wanted to respond to four or five of your last blogs – just haven’t taken the time. Will do so, within a day or two. Renee’s family, by the way, is from the NC area. We have LOTS of family there. Scott

    Reply
  • 2. therocchronicles  |  November 9, 2010 at 10:43 am

    It’s so heart stopping when they say things like this. I can see the Roc saying something similar in the future, and it makes my chest constrict just thinking about, as I’m sure your breath stopped in your throat when he uttered those words. We are all trying our best, and I think we are so used to fixing even the smallest things with our kids who need so much help, that it’s hard to switch gears and listen.

    Reply
  • 3. Shivon  |  November 9, 2010 at 11:01 am

    It is so hard to switch gears, we are moms….we ‘fix’…and it sucks when we can’t or that is not whats called for. You are doing all you can and he knows…

    Reply
  • 4. born 2b me  |  November 9, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I’m glad you posted this. It is a great lesson in listening skills.
    I think your initial response was very good (some kids would have heard “suck it up”, “stop whining”, etc.).
    I also am a fixer, and I need to learn to just lend people an ear and let them explore.
    It is helpful to see it presented so clearly.
    C is blessed to have a Mom with such insight.
    Oops, I think I’d better stop my “fixing”! 🙂
    Thanks for helping me to become more aware of my tendencies.

    Reply
  • 5. goodfountain  |  November 9, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    I’m a fixer too. I have such a hard time just lending a listening ear, but I really really try.

    And because of this post, I’m going to make sure that I really really try with Charlotte. We parents don’t have to have an explanation for everything. Sometimes it’s good to just listen.

    Great post, Darcy.

    Reply
  • 6. Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg  |  November 11, 2010 at 7:57 am

    As a mom, I can really relate to wanting to “fix” things. It’s a natural response, I think, because we just feel it so acutely when our kids are hurting. And sometimes, it’s quite appropriate; sometimes, our kids want to understand what’s going on in order to get a handle on it, and they need us to lead the way.

    Looking back on almost 18 years of parenting, I can see that I learned to navigate these waters by asking myself what would be most empowering to my daughter. I quickly realized that sometimes, attempting to “fix” things left her feeling disempowered, as though she weren’t capable of handling her feelings and coming up with solutions. I learned to ask more questions and give fewer answers, and to reflect my daughter’s feelings back to her rather than offer her explanations.

    Leading her to her own answers and to being able to verbalize her feelings was a hard skill for me to learn, but it was ultimately very empowering for both of us!

    Reply
  • 7. pixiemama  |  November 11, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    I’m too hung up on the hater. And the hate. You are absolutely right, of course. We are used to having to fix – it’s just not optional for us, but to stop and listen … Yeah. I could use a brush up on those skills, too.

    Reply
  • 8. fiona2107  |  November 13, 2010 at 3:47 am

    Oh honey, i know that you will get another chance at this. But for the record – i dont think you failed him. You simply dis something that I believe EVERY other mother reading this would have also tried to do. We want to make life easier and mless stressful for our kids – that’s what we do!!

    Reply
  • 9. robinaltman  |  November 14, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    My fix it response is the need to find out who S is and drive to his house with a sniper gun. That’s not especially helpful, and it lands me in jail a lot.

    When did I miss the North Carolina thing? I was sitting around, just minding my own business, and …. North Carolina. I used to live in NC for school. It was really nice. I’m going to sit here and wait to hear more about North Carolina. I”m just sitting here. I’m thirsty. I’ll get a cup of tea, and then sit here some more.

    Reply
  • 10. Patty  |  November 23, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    I do this All. The. Time. I so need to work on it. I am a total fixer, which I obviously need to fix, huh?

    Reply

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