Monday, April 4, 2011
One of the things that always baffled me about my husband in our early years was his absolute inability to give an excuse about anything. In fact, often we would have literal disagreements about it. Sometimes it would be good that he didn't offer an excuse because he simply dropped the ball. But other times, it would be totally legitimate to offer an excuse for something he was responsible for that he didn't get done...like being sick or something. I'd seriously get mad at him in disbelief for this!! As those first few years ticked by, I began to realize that not only was he totally opposed to pretty much ever giving an excuse about anything but, it also now applied to me. When I messed up, he would take the fall.
What?! It would drive me crazy. One time, I forgot to pack him some shoes for his fraternity meeting (he always had to dress up) and I forgot his dress shoes. So, he had to pay the penalty (not sure what it was because it's a big secret, ha ha) and he told them he forgot them. I remember chiding him and saying, "Why didn't you just tell them it was me?! I'm sure they would've understood." His only response was, "I'm responsible for you now. When you mess up, it falls on me and I'm okay with that." What?! This sort of attitude seriously befuddled me and frustrated me at times for many years. Why did he have such a difficult time saying the dog ate his homework? Everyone else did. Especially when I felt like he was justified in doing so? Instead, he'd just say he didn't do it and that'd be it. He'd try and make it right and do better the next time. I wanted him to slide his way out of it to make it better. What I didn't understand was that he was just being a man.
Now fast forward some years. We start having boys...lots of them. And over time, I began to see (and maybe also just get more used to the idea) that when it comes to responsibility, there really isn't room for excuses. Sometimes there might need to be explanations (and he could work on that end a bit) but ultimately, the buck stopped with him and when it came up short, he'd tell people who to look for-him. It was hard for me to see him fail sometimes because he did. It was even harder for me to watch him pay when it was my fault. I shudder when I think about some of the bigger things he's shouldered and protected me from giving the guise that it was him and not me.
But over time, I slowly began to get it. Boys have to learn that they can't make excuses for themselves. They either did it or they didn't. Recently we've been working on that with my oldest. We've noticed that when asked to give an explanation for his actions, often he'll say "he did it first" or "I was tired" or something silly like that. I've been totally amazed at how easily my little boys are ready to give an excuse!
Last night I was skimming through Doug Wilson's book, Future Men and came across this section on giving excuses. It was as if a light bulb went off in my head and I was brought back through all of those early years when I didn't understand Steve in this area.
He says, "A refusal to make excuses is right at the heart of a scriptural masculinity. Boys need so much practice at this that they should be taught to accept responsibility even when the sun was in their eyes [reason they couldn't catch the fly ball]. Unfortunately, many boys are schooled in the techniques of avoiding masculinity by their parents. When a boy does not make excuses it is frequently because he does not need to--mom or dad do it for him...Boys must learn to say, regularly--to God, to others and to themselves--that they were wrong when they were wrong, and that they were responsible when they were responsible. When they do this, they will discover that authority naturally flows to those who take responsibility. That same authority naturally flees from those who seek to shift the responsibility or the blame. When boys learn to do this, they are learning what it means to be a young man." pg. 22-23, Doug Wilson, Future Men
It was as if it finally clicked for me. I've been seeing it in practice for some time. I know that we want our boys to get this. I pray that we can pass this on for it's very important! But what I hadn't done yet was connect it to our early years and my absolute inability to understand the principle at the time.
Nearly nine years later, I think the first thing I'll do when my hubby comes home is thank him for being a man who doesn't make excuses.
And then, I must say that when I see my in-laws next...I'll thank them too.