Things l’d like my Son to know 

Things I want my son to know. Lesson #12 – Have Courage, But don’t be afraid to cry.

“Big Boys Dont Cry”is something I used to hear a lot when I was growing up.

When I was 22, my granddad died peacefully in his sleep. He was someone I loved so much, someone who taught me the art of DIY, allowed me to drive his cars all the time, sit with him and play with him.

I remember getting the news at about 3am when I heard the house phone ring, and I immediately sensed he was gone, and it was confirmed by my mum’s crying. I jumped up in bed and burst into tears. My dad walked past, knocked on the door and saw me crying and said “Let it out now, but be strong when you get to the house” but there was no time. Granddad lived 3 doors from us, so I quickly got changed and had to dry my eyes and “be strong” for my family.

“Man-Up”, “Grow a pair” are phrases heard so frequently in todays conversational dialogue, and I’ve had the same phrases directed at me on occasion, each time making me feel sick to my core. There are so many societal demands placed on modern man from all angles, from your partner, family, work, friends, off-spring etc etc, and each role, demands you to be a different version of yourself. Your partner will want someone who is strong but gentle, take charge but not too controlling, hardened but communicative, burly but emotionally aware. Your work will want someone who is confident, in control, dependable, trustworthy, and with your colleagues in the pub, someone fun, a jack-the-lad, cocky. Your children will want someone who is there to be the nurturer, reader, repairman, builder, dancer, comedian/clown, and at the same time someone strong and who never tires and so on..

We are told to be so skewed towards the angle of being strong, so much that we often neglect the fact that as men, we also have a heart that needs to be cared for, emotions that need addressing and balancing. It isn’t easy to deal with the expectations without dealing with the consequences.

If you’re sensitive, you’re classed as a metrosexual…or even gay…

I was acutely aware of all of these expectations from a very early age, however never really understood how to balance these in my life. It came to a crunch point when I went through a very private fight which I had to keep quiet about, a fight that took all my energy to overcome and win. 

Yesterday I was told to “Let him play with transformers, turn him into a real boy, a tough kid” as I allowed my son to play with his minion bag… much to my frustration, I had to laugh it off, secretly wanting to throw a pie at this guy. My son loves LEGO at the moment, and loves cooking. He loves being cuddled and play-fighting. He loves the park, animals, and occasionally will play with his mums make-up, using it as paint, her brushes as paint brushes. 

All of these things make him special.

Son, The most important person in your life is YOU. The demands of this world seem like they will destroy your mental stability. Take time for yourself. Your mind and emotional health are as important, if not more important than your physical health. You will be called upon to show strength when the proverbials hit the fan, but also if you need to shed your own tears, do so. Do not carry the burden of your own heartache. Boys and men all cry. I’ve not met one that hasn’t. At some point in our life, we reach a point where we can no longer handle the pressure and so we cry. The point is to try and maintain an healthy mind set and emotional balance so that you don’t reach the point where you get pushed over the edge, but manage the emotional trauma healthily.

I remember a quote shared by a spiritual teacher from India, who said – “The way to assess how strong you are (he was talking about Spiritual Strength) is to look at how often you are disturbed during the day.”. Find time to meditate, to regroup your mind and focus on the positive, the more you do this, the more your mind will veer to the positive in the world. If you want to handle the tribulations of this world, you will need to find your inner strength, your inner courage. But this comes from finding a teaching that channels your spirit to balance courage, and emotion. There is no weakness in saying “I need help” or “I need to talk to someone about something that is bothering me”. The moment you realise that YOU are important, will make it easier, to be of value and be of support to others.

Things I’d Like my Son to Know. 

Lesson #11- You are You in Everybody. 

The golden rule; “Treat others how you too wish to be treated.”

The age old saying of treating others how you wish to be treated was one that I was taught many years ago.  It underpins cohesion and almost subtly enforced a social contract that I see you as someone with the shared values as I have and therefore will treat you as I expect to be treated. 

The problem lies here, and this is where it all goes pear shaped.  What if the others don’t share my values, conditioning, culture, behaviour? 

Well then I’ll just have to wing it I guess, right? 

Wrong.

See there’s another rule. The platinum rule that says, “Treat others how they wish to be treated”.

Knowing what I know now, that seeing myself in others doesn’t mean seeing them as me, but as an extension of me, with all their own hopes, desires, aspirations, expectations etc. 

Son, if you want to truly succeed with people you need to know a couple of things. Firstly, you are you, with your own personality, dreams, hopes etc. And that others have their own. 

Secondly – everyone is equal. In that I mean that when you see yourself in others, remember that you are no more than then, and certainly no less than them. 

You taught me a lesson today. You built a train out of lego, and placed all the individual people onto it. They all had different faces, jobs, ages, and you didn’t see any of these. For you – there was room on the train for everyone. 

See beyond the facade of the exterior and find the commonality between you and the other.  You will find that placing everyone equally, you yourself become included in this. It takes you out of the inferiority or superiority complexes of the mind. But be wary of the fact that although you might see others as equals, others may not see you as their equal. Rise above their insecurity or complex, and keep in mind- you are you, in everybody. 

Things I’d Like my Son to Know

Lesson 9 – Sometimes you just need “Me-Time”

After a tiring evening putting my son to bed I realised that in the past 3 months, i’ve not taken time out to go for a walk.  It was a bout 8pm and I was getting to that agitated point in my day where I felt as though I needed to expend some energy before I rest my head.

As I grabbed by jacket, keys and phone (for emergency) and exited the door and down the street, I realised I had left my prized partner at home – my wife.  For once, in a very long time, I was doing something that wanted to do, that was just about me and fresh air (as much as can be had in the suburbs of the UK) and I was actually glad for the time to myself.

It was only a short walk, about 25 minutes but in that time, I came to the realisation that in this world, I came alone, and I will leave it, alone, and no one can change any of that.

This thought continued and I began to feel slightly isolated, cocooned off from the remainder of the world and all alone.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a negative emotion, more like a free feeling, that actually being alone isn’t something to be afraid of.

Son, we live in a time where we are wired into the brains, phones, homes of millions of people.  Our thoughts, once put out into the social ether, are not solitary anymore.  They are listened to and answered by the masses, and this overload of opinion, emotion, connectivity, as often thrilling as it can be, is actually a source of much strain.

Be in tune with yourself, your own thoughts, vibration, and solitude.

If you find yourself needing to be disconnected from the over-connectivity, take it.  There are many that will say that this is a bad thing, or that it goes against the grain – but for your own peace of mind, find peace in your mind.

A spiritual teacher from India shared that peace in the home begins when there is peace within.  Find that which brings you peace.  Meditate, walk, switch off to reconnect with yourself.  Build yourself up so that you recognise your inner peace, a place where you find balance to face the world each day.

Things I’d Like my Son to Know

Lesson #7 – 30 seconds can change your life. 

I heard a story about a 23 year old man, who was the sole man in the house looking after his mother, his siblings after his dad left. 

As fate would have it, trying to make ends meet he gets into the wrong company and ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. It took 30 seconds being in the wrong place, and he’s caught by the police, and I jailed for 2 years. 

He wasn’t doing anything wrong per se, he was with just in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. 

30 seconds is all it took and he lost everything. His mothers respect, his family’s love, his own dignity. 

When he was released from prison, it had such a profound impact on him that his immediate response was “there’s no way I’m going back there.”

Son the choices you make, and these are conscious choices, can change your life. Every single choice. 

As your parents we will try and give you the best possible guidance and support to allow you to make the best decisions, to know your right from wrong, and hopefully be strong enough to choose a positive path. 

Things I’d Like my Son to Know

Lesson #6- be kind to yourself. Be kind to others.

I was watching an elderly lady who sat down to have a cup of tea today at a coffee shop.. she was by herself and had a walking stick.

I saw another elderly lady, who was sat watching this same old lady. Dressed really well, taken good care of herself and I thought to myself, “I wonder what she’s Thinking?”

As it turns out, I watched her get up of her seat, walk over to this lady who was sat with her coffee, and ask her if she needed anything else… she asked her if she wanted a cookie, some toast, if she had transport home.

Kindness is an amazing thing.

I’ll tell you what I thought she was thinking. I thought she was looking down at her slightly, almost condescending.

How wrong I was.

I see it like this. She must have seen her reflection in this lady, and saw herself, possibly needing some love, support, a cookie..

Son, there are two elements to this story, that I need you to understand well.

Firstly. Respect and love yourself. 

Be kind to yourself. Of all the species on this planet, you, me, humans have been gifted this human body. The “pinnacle” of creation. The opportunity to change ones surrounding, self, and company to its own desire. Not all creatures have this ability.

Respect yourself. A wonderful saint in India, in the mid 50’s told his flock “no matter how much or how little you have, whatever station you are, keep yourself physically clean, clothes clean no matter what you wear, and always stand out well.” He also made more of his focus on having clean character, moral fiber, and a giving heart however I take this to mean that whatever you have in your life, dress appropriately and make sure you are well presented for each occasion.

Recognise that your own worth is important. I live under the guidance that “humility is not thinking less of yourself, but is thinking of yourself less”

You Are Unique.

Remember your value as that, and treat yourself well. How you treat yourself, will form the reflection of how others see and treat you.

Secondly, be kind to others.

As I grew up, people valued things like manners, respect, patience, honesty, kindness, generousity. As I see the world now, it values these things less and less, ironically needing it more and more.

If theres anything you can do for others, without diminishing the values you uphold, without being a huge burden on you or your family, do it.

The world needs kindness. It spreads happiness to people, often who need it the most. And to add to that, never have the expectation that you will get a reward. Even a thank you. Do it because you see yourself in that person. If you have valued and respected yourself, you wont need validation.

You will find this easy. It’s in your blood. Your mum is one of the kindest people I know, and even if you have 1/10th of her kindness you will be an asset to society.

Things I’d Like my Son to Know. 

Lesson #5 – Laugh. Lots. 

I have always believed laughter is the best medicine. 

My friends will say whiskey is, but I’ve never had a hangover from laughing too much.

Growing up my school friends thought I was weird. I found everything funny. Names, crap jokes, foreign words, a random memory, farting.

Just about anything.

I believe I hardly got ill because I laughed so much, and when I did, I found things that made me laugh and I recovered quickly.

Now I’m older I still hold this theory true (and yes- my friends still think I’m weird!)

Whenever, my son, you’ve been ill, your mum and I have tickled you, played with you, and done anything to make you laugh to get you to recover quickly. The times we haven’t done, you’ve not recovered as quickly and we’ve all been miserable as a result of it.

Laughter makes you feel good. For a lot longer than the laughter lasts. It raises your endorphins, lowers your cortisol, and lifts your spirits, higher than any intoxicant can.

Son, life is a beautiful gift and a wonderful journey. Take every single day as an opportunity to laugh about something.

Every night, think about, remember, or share with us, something that has made you happy or smile in the day, and you will find that your mind looks for the positive more than the negative.

Whatever you get dealt with in life, may not be fair, or the result of your own actions. But you have a choice.  To deal with it happily, or get upset through it.

If you develop the habit of erring towards the positive, you will seek out solutions, and find that often, the solutions find you.

 

Things I’d Like my Son to Know 

Lesson #4 – Make it Better. 

As he scratched my cheek one morning, Sid saw that it was red and grazed. He asked me “Daddy, have you got aowee?” I said “yes son, you scratched me, remember”. 

He followed with, “daddy, shall I make it better?” And then kissed it and blew away the pain. 

He does the same with his toys. If he sees a toy broken. He either tries to fix it, or he will tell me to fix it. 

To him, right now, everything in this world is fixable. 

Son, almost everything you see in the world appears to be disposable. Phones, dishes, cars, clothes, everything. 

There was a time that people would fix, rather than buy or replace. But the world seems to have changed. 

And we have applied the same rule to people that we have to things. If they’re broken, rather than try and help fix them, we replace them. If a relationship has soured, throw it away and find a new one. If friends let us down, we act out on social media to find new ones rather than understand why they let us down. 

Just as you, at this really young age of 2, understand that my pain (which by the way, you caused) could be made to to go away with some effort by yourself, always remember that everything can be fixed with effort. 

Make things better. Apply it to your consumables, your toys, your furniture, your microwave, your TV. 

But most importantly, apply it to your relationships. If you do anything that hurts someone, or see someone in pain, try and make it better for them. Treat the symptom, but try and get to the root of the pain and help deal with it. 

There is a lot to gain in this world when repairing relationships. It builds trust, communcation, love and appreciation. 

Take time in these things, they will put you in good stead for life.