Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Giving Up or Choosing

Ben has a sad face. He walks towards the car and it gets sadder and longer the closer he gets. He is holding it in and by the time he gets seated and buckled in the dam breaks.
"Oh Mom, it was a terrible day!"
I ask him why, truly concerned. he hasn't had a terrible day in months.
" Today the teacher showed Lydia's art, Lydia's my best friend and she's a good artist, but Ms.Cline showed her art and not mine and she showed the whole class and she's a better artist that I am!!!"
Big crocodile tears are rolling and plopping onto his sweatshirt.
"I used to be the best artist and now I'm not and the teacher never shows my art so I'm not going to be an artist anymore!!!'
It's decisive. He is killing off his artistic expression. "The word decide is from the family pesticide, homicide, insecticide," (to quote leaders from Landmark, a breakthrough personal training and development program),"it kills off something in your life. It is very different from a choice, which is to choose freely after consideration."
Ben was killing something off in his life. It was very difficult for me not to make that wrong, to make him wrong. But I knew making him wrong about that would just have him hold onto his new decision with more vigor than ever before. I just needed to be with it.
"Wow, you are really sad." I said, running my hand over his shiny hair. " Yeah." he said and went onto describe in further detail how he is going to stop making art and instead just spend time with his family. Compassionate, but still limiting. Okay.

I listened while driving until he was completely emptied out, then I pulled the car over.
"Ben can I tell you a story?" He nodded.
"When I was a girl, I took a dance class with my sister Chi. Jazz. We had black outfits with fringe on the arms, we practiced for three months. Then we had a dance recital. Chi was shorter so she was in the front row. I was taller so I was in the back. I was nervous. I really wanted to do it right. At the end of the dance our father came up and said " Wow, Chi what a nice big smile you had, you look like you really enjoyed it!" Then he looked at me and said " Zen, where was your smile?"
In that moment I made up that Chi was a better dancer than I was, that dance was " her thing" and I shouldn't dance. So I didn't. For a long time. I missed out on alot of fun.
Then, when I lived on my own in New York City, I met your Daddy and we took dance lessons together, had a lot of fun and fell in love. I took a chance by dancing again. If I hadn't taken that chance then Daddy and I wouldn't have gotten married and you wouldn't be alive today."
Ben said " Well, that's what I am going to do then, not do art for a long time."
I told him that the point was that I could have been having fun all those years and dancing anyway, it doesn't matter about anyone else. He can do whatever he wants, and he can always change his mind and do art again, today even, either way it's his choice...
He soon, sighed, nodded his head, changed his mind and said he chose to do art again.

As we walked into our home he sighed and said " Thanks for telling me that story Mom, You know, parents are useful. They have been kids and they know stuff." I felt so touched by his simple wisdom and acknowledgement. Oh Thank God, I thought, my child does listen a little bit and does learn a little bit from my experience.

The next day, he came home, beaming, that his teacher had shown his art at the front of the class, shining, happy and still best friends with Lydia. He said he learned from what she did and the whole class learned from what he did. That's my boy!

Zen Honeycutt


  1. awww! thats an awesome story! love it!! :D

  2. Zen, thanks for sharing that story! You are a great mom and Ben can back me up! Keep sharing your beautiful stories! Lorena=