The following is either evidence of parental incompetence (failure to raise empathetic offspring) or a serious indication that brain development is a significant reality for at least one thirteen year old male. By way of explanation, I found the following cartoon and sent it to my son. (Found on Kathy Schiffer’s blog http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kathyschiffer/2013/11/perfect-young-cartoon-fella-sees-disability-in-a-new-light/ but as she notes, it is from Brazilian webcomic Mentirinhas)
Read the cartoon for yourself and then I’ll go from there.
As I said, I sent this to my son. I liked the cartoon. It made me feel human. I’m not sure what I expected from him, but I didn’t expect this:
Mom – thanks for sending this. It was really funny.
I read it twice, then hit delete. I did not want to read it again. Funny? Not, Moving? Thought provoking? Inspiring? Really? Funny?
A few weeks ago, I read my first ever blog post to this same son. (The post covered my mad attempts to thwart the mating intentions of equines.) “I love it,” he said. “Good,” I said. “I hope people at least find it interesting and a little bit funny.” His eyebrows furrowed confused. “Must be an adult thing. It’s good, but I don’t see anything funny.”
I guarantee that if I sit down with him (this part is definitely on the do list) and point out the emotions the boy in the cartoon was feeling and expressing, and then draw attention to his transformation from bitterness to hope, my son will find it meaningful. In fact, he will like the cartoon a lot more. But at this point without a nudge in that direction, emotion, nuance . . . they’re really not that obvious or even accessible to him. Or maybe they are, but laughing is just so much easier than hurting?
I don’t have all the answers, I just find kids interesting. There’s so much to learn looking under those rocks in their brains. About brains. About them. About us.
I’ll ease him into being comfortable with a little empathy and then just standing there being him, he’ll ease me into laughing at both of us and not taking this sacred trust of mothering thing quite so seriously.