Maturity comes when you think not just of what you said, but how others took it. I thought of that last night after a discussion with Elie. We were talking. He’s frustrated. He needs something and I have no idea where it is. It was next to my desk before we moved about two years ago. I was busy packing the upstairs areas and then unpacking them in the new house while others packed up the office area. His paperwork must be lost somewhere in dozens of boxes that we’ve stored in our basement area, blocked in by our Passover dishes, old clothes and other things, his father’s tools, equipment, parts of a ping pong table, and more.
He said something that in some way sounded like he blamed me. I tried to defend myself, feeling bad that he was blaming me; unsure what I could do differently now. Yes, it would have been better if I could have avoided this situation, but had no idea it would come to this and now that it has, I can’t go backwards and fix the problem retroactively. I can’t physically start digging through all these things to find it.
Elie heard something in my voice and stopped and apologized. He said it was his fault, not mine (it couldn’t have been, it wasn’t his fault). He said that it was not something he blamed me for and more – he realized that his words sounded as if he was placing the blame on me when he really didn’t mean that. “I know how it sounded, like I was blaming you. But I’m not. I’m sorry.”
He asked me to work with him to solve the problem and find the missing item. And after I hung up the phone I sat at my desk amazed, yet again, at this man that has come from the boy. What amazing sensitivity it took to listen not only to his words but to the tone he was using, to recognize how I might have felt, and more, to apologize.
Another sign of manhood, of a child grown, of a son who has worked to move the relationship with his parent to a new level.