“You don’t own me” the seven year old said.
“You are not the boss of me” he continued…
At the height of ‘knee-high-to-a-grasshopper’ and all the attitude of a rogue commando captain, he was working the moment as always. Hand gestures like an Italian mobster and a stance obviously learned from his mother he was all in on fighting the moment.
I would stifle my laughter, gather my thoughts and reply as calm as I could.
“Son, you are right. I don’t own you and you can be your one boss, but at the moment you are my responsibility so you should listen to me as I have the experience that you have not yet gained in life” (I said something to that effect – honest)
“You don’t get to just tell me what to do, you said we should be negotiating”
“When did I say that son?”
“I heard you say it, yesterday”
“I said that to you?”
“Not to me, but I heard you say it”
He was right of course. I had said it but it was not said to him and he obviously overheard me. So in the heat of that moment I negotiated and he stopped what he was doing and he went to bed with lights out. In a way, he won that battle and it was probably a good victory for him.
He most likely learned a lot in that moment and I know he continued to use his two favourite phrases for a time after that..
“I don’t own him and I am not the boss of him” go figure, he kept in play what worked for him so he learns fast.
I think it did teach him good as a lesson because he still has an attitude problem and he has an issue with authority. Now, not in a bad way, like, he is going to prison, bad way. Just in a way that he knows his own mind and is clear on what he will and won’t do. He won’t be a walk over for anyone. That is what a father should wish for in his son. Strength of character.
He is a stubborn big guy now. He has grown up and is no longer knee high to that grasshopper. He can also protect himself physically so he is handy, but nice, protective and polite with it.
It is funny to reflect upon how he is because I see some of me in him and my own struggles with authority. Or should I say, my struggles with authority taken and not earned.
Yeah, you know these people. The authoritarian who loves being in charge and loves the idea of leading people but has no clue how to lead people. The General Haig’s of the corporate world. The type of leaders that are gonna get us all killed… or worse, will blow the coffee budget because they took charge and spent it on cake, because they were hungry. Yeah, the type of leaders that eat first.
I have worked with many leaders like this and I have worked with a handful of tremendous leaders. People that I would gladly follow into battle for. People that I would take a bullet for… well a small arm wound, a nick, really. That’s about the measure of my bravery.
Seriously though, there are some outstanding leaders out there. But not many earn the title of boss from me. Like my son said, they don’t boss me, they don’t own me… unless I choose it to be.
This is where the paradox kicks in. I hate to be bossed. Boss me and I will fight against you. I will never call you boss unless you have earned it and only three people have earned it in my whole fifty three years on this earth. So the reward for not bossing me but treating me like an equal with a voice, treating me like a human and respecting me is that I will eventually call you boss. Yeah, figure that one out.
My son has the right attitude that I know will carry him on to a successful life because he is clearly the boss of himself.
It might change when he is out in the real world, but I hope it doesn’t. I hope he ends up the full boss of himself. He has the attitude to be that and more and he has the safety net of a family that love him.
He should push the envelope of life more at the age he is at. He should try new and exciting things. He should explore that opportunity of doing dumb shit and see how it goes.
He should do it now before he ends up telling the guy with the three stars on his badge that he doesn’t own him, he doesn’t have the right to boss him and my son then threatens to walk away…
From the french fryer.