We all teach our children those things we hope will help them to be "good" people, "productive citizens", "successful" business types, "compassionate" parents and "loving" spouses. But sometimes the most important lessons come from regular thoughts. Things that are just the basis of life. The rules of engagement so to speak.
Every now and then my husband spits out some advice to my children that shines like gold. I wish I could bottle the stuff and sell it. Those tidbits are usually short and sweet but oh so profound.
My ultimate favorite has been “You don’t have to be friends with everyone. But you should be friendly.”
But today he said something that is really a testament to the true nature of who my husband really is.
People can spend a lot of time around my husband – I mean YEARS of get-togethers, holidays etc. and realize that in 20 years they don’t know anymore about him than they did when they met him.
They don’t have an unkind word to say about him. In fact, recently at our junior league wrestling awards banquet the high school wrestling coach said, “In all the years I’ve known Coach and worked with him, I’ve never heard one person in this town say one bad thing about him.” That is the truth. Everybody likes my husband. Do you know why?
Today we were bringing Son #1 home from a friend’s house. Son #1 has taken up the hobby of Longboarding over the past year. He has a certain group that he “bombs hills” with. (He is either really proud of me for getting that term correct or completely mortified that I blew it big time.) Son #1 was pretty excited about his escapades today and was blurting out all sorts of information and stories while bringing him home.
I interjected. “Son, I have a piece of advice for you. When you start telling me skating stories and using skater terms that I have absolutely NO idea what you are referring to – I get lost. Then when you try to verbally paint a picture of what you are talking about – usually trying to illustrate a “slide” telling me where the legs and feet are placed and how you turn …you lose me. I am no longer interested in what you are saying because I am confused by the details. In the future if you say something like – Hey! I’m really excited because there is this slide I’ve been working on for a while and it’s hard but today I got it. I can then be genuinely happy for you and remain interested in your hobby.”
Then my husband said something utterly perfect. He said:
“People don’t like to listen to you talk about yourself. People like to talk about themselves.”
It was brilliant. Simplistic. And so true. And why the blogging world and facebook and Twitter and You Tube and Reality Television are sweeping the world.
I thought about my husband.
He is a Sales Executive/Manager. He is absolutely fantastic at what he does. I was completely awestruck by his salesmanship in my early twenties and watched him with customers and coworkers and fell deeply in love with that guy. That guy stood around and chatted – told jokes – played pranks – always remembered your name and the latest piece of information happening in your personal life. He made a mental note of so many things about so many people. When he talked to you – he made you the most important character in that conversation.
He generates a conversation by reaching out and asking questions of the other person. He offers very little about himself. Always has. You can walk away from a conversation with him and realize he didn’t tell you ONE thing about himself but he had you talking and telling you EVERYTHING about yourself, your spouse, your parents, your children – the neighbor you had 27 years ago as a child. It is a talent actually.
He is a phenomenal salesman and has had an outstanding career for that precise reason. He develops a relationship with an individual completely allowing that person to be the center of attention. Never interjecting his own opinions or the infamous phrases “Oh I know – I remember when I or I can relate…” Nope. He gives you nothing about himself. He is all about you.
So there he was today to explain to Son #1 the gist of what I was rambling on about. Short and sweet and to the point. My husband is a man of very few words, though he is very wise about interacting with people in a positive way. In a way to forge a career. In a way to coach children and deal with their parents. In a way to go through life engaging neighbors, coworkers and customers.
So between the persistent lectures about grades and curfews and all of those things that we fill our teenager's heads with - I am grateful to him for sharing that wisdom and passing on the secrets of his success with our children.
As a lover of words, I am finding that some of my favorite words are the ones my husband speaks while parenting our children...
And when he does - I fall in love with him all over again just like in my twenties...