My son called me to be picked up early after school because he said he didn’t have any homework and that he wasn’t feeling well. In the car I asked him about the physical symptoms, and he said he was “all right.” It was his sister who quietly used her psychic abilities to say that a girl had broken up with him.
“No!” he said angrily.
I could feel my 13-year-old son’s sullen pain and I was in pain too! I instantly wanted to protect him, tell him that girl isn’t worth it! I also thought, uh, oh, how to deal with teen emotions! He didn’t want to talk about anything.
Back at home I gently insisted that he talk with me. “Is it about school work?” He nodded no. “Somebody in class?” “Sort of,” he said. “A bully.” “No.” “Did a girl break up with you.” That smile and blush and look away saying, “No,” made me know, from experience, that that was it. I wondered, what stupid girl wouldn’t think my son is the most handsome, sweetest, smartest kid in school? Instead of prying I said, “I understand how you may have feelings of rejection.” That gave him a sigh of relief and he seemed to open up.
“I know what it’s like to be rejected,” I said, and I began telling him stories of dates, breakups, hurts and rejection. I told him I was so shy and called ugly and never was even kissed until the tenth grade. “Boys snarled at me when I walked up to them in jr. high school!” My son laughed. “It’s true!” I told him in adulthood how a boy in college dumped me. I was crazy about him. Met him working at a Mexican restaurant in California. Then after a while, for no reason, he became mean and just dumped me. I was crushed, crying all the way back on the train home to Boulder. Then I told him a more recent story about how after his father died 8 years earlier and I started dating again three years later. A handsome Buddhist dentist from Scottsdale that I met on Match.com flew out to meet me, but after that in person meeting, flew right back, saying he just wanted to be “Friends.” I was crushed.
“But you just know there has to be something wrong with them! Not you! It wasn’t meant to be. You know in your Self that you are smart, handsome, kind, and wonderful. The right girl will come along.” I told him the story of two boys in a room. A man walked in, but didn’t even say hello or anything to either of them. The first boy thought, “He didn’t talk to me! There must be something wrong with me!” The other boy thought, “He didn’t talk to me. There must be something wrong with him!” It’s all about self-esteem, our sense of Self.
“There’s a new kid,” he shared. I was pleased that he was feeling comfortable enough to share more about what’s going on. Just recently he was the new kid, so now there is another. I told him that that’s one of the oldest stories in the book. Man takes another guy’s girl. I told him then stories of my own stupidity and mean behavior toward boys that I wasn’t aware of and now look back on and regret. There was a boy that I had liked since the fifth grade and had a huge crush on all through junior high school, and got a chance to date in college. Somehow I said something impolite about him, not being aware, and word got back. I killed my chance right there.
My son’s moon was lightened. “Thanks, Mom.” I knew by sharing my pain, I could help his. Stories are good for that. I never had to preach or just say it’s going to be OK. I just told stores that he could relate to. I had a good time laughing and remembering them too and having somebody witness my life. We really bonded as mother and son.
That’s pretty much how I teach teen yoga classes. I don’t come in with a set story or lesson plan. I sit down and ask them, “What’s going on in your life?” They will tell of the test anxiety, the stress, the mean girls, the family problems. I pull out a folktale or wisdom story from my head to tell that relates to their problem and add some yoga, breathing and meditation to the lesson. I also tell them the real stories of my teens and high school. My personal stories help me to relate on their level and they appreciate that connection. My stories expose my weakness, my flaws and it gives teens permission to make mistakes, let them know they are not alone. It let’s them know that in the end things turn out Ok and life goes on. You blaze the trail for them, so that they have a guide. Your stories are their salve and light. Do tell!