When I was a kid, people called me shy. To this day, I have this subconscious thought that I am shy. Contrary to this image that I have in my head, my wife refuses to accept this fact. When I think about it though, I am not that shy. At least not anymore.
And this is what I wanted to discuss. I was “labelled”, for lack of a better word, as being a shy child. And I grew up believing that I was. I may have grown up a little differently if I had believed otherwise.
So why was I told that I was shy in the first place? To be quite honest, I could really have been shy and timid when I was young. I imagine that most kids would be. I do remember being told stop being shy at certain times in my childhood. But it wasn’t an encouragement type of being told, it was more like a stern command to stop being shy. Mind you, this was the norm in the time and place that I grew up in. And so I grew up thinking I was normal and I don’t really have anything against my upbringing. Even with the guidance of our parents, we still grow into our own adult selves. And this is where I am now.
Matthew has also been called a lot of things. We were building him up ever since he was much smaller. We always told him that he would be great. We always told him how good looking he was. We always told him how we loved his thoughtfulness, his kindness, his wittiness, his being a good son. It had always been praise. And then, we changed. The three of us changed.
Over the years, the frustration over Matthew’s performance in his academics seems to have piled up. He has his own frustrations and we have our own. And it has really rocked the boat.
Obviously, as parents, we try not to focus on the negatives. It is unsurprisingly difficult. It isn’t impossible but it is difficult. Humans, by nature, only look at things that are obviously in front of them without taking the time to understand why. Some won’t even bother asking the question. And this is where the bad labelling comes in. Words hurt. And you won’t know how much you have hurt that person until that person comes up to you to say it. And at one point, Matthew did. And I felt horrible. It felt like someone had thrust a hand into my chest and yanked my guts out. For a father that had been doing his best to be a good dad, hearing your child say that you had hurt him with your words, that is just devastating. And we’re not even talking about harsh words here, this is just about me pushing him to study harder.
And so I woke up. I had been lost in thought for a long time about what to do with Matthew. Because I had been thinking on my own. I really don’t want to be blamed for anything because I was thinking of how Matthew’s future would be like. But those were my thoughts. His thoughts are different. His thoughts are of the present. His thoughts do not look forward enough that we see eye to eye. And that’s where I need to take a step back. I am thinking of his future, but I had not been walking him there. I was four steps in front of him and he just couldn’t grasp it. It took a while to learn that. But I am hopeful that it is the way for all of us to move forward. Maybe not in the same direction, but at least all at the same time.