Last week as I was having a massive nervous breakdown about my job, Chris was also having a massive nervous breakdown about his. He came home one night and unloaded all his frustrations and stress and worry about his job as we sat on the couch one night after the kids had gone to bed.
“I just have too much on my plate,” he said. “I feel like I’m not doing any of it well because there’s just so much of it to handle.”
“You need to ask for some help, Chris,” I said.
Asking for help for Chris has always been a challenge. He likes to do things his way. On his own. And asking for someone to step in and help him out gives over a lot of that control. Sharing responsibilities with others on his team has been an on-going struggle for him since college. I can remember having these same conversations all through graduate school, and later as he entered the workforce. And now, there we sat, having the same conversation.
“I don’t want to ask for help,” said Chris. “I want to do it my way. I don’t want someone else to help me.”
Fast forward to tonight.
Bean brought home his first night of “homework” from preschool. Every Wednesday he has a folder that he brings home with a little homework assignment in it. It isn’t anything major. Just something to help parents get involved at home. Tonight’s task was writing his name on the lines three times.
Since I was doing the dinner dishes, Chris sat down to work with Bean. Gracie helped by putting Little Mermaid stickers all over Bean’s folder.
They were working for a few minutes and I wasn’t really paying attention until I heard Chris raise his voice in frustration and say, “Michael, you have to let me help you!”
And then Michael’s eyes filled with tears and he yelled back, “But I want to do it myself! I don’t want any help!”
“Fine!” Chris said. And he stood up and walked over to where I was washing dishes, leaving Michael to work on his homework by himself.
“He won’t let me help him! It is so frustrating!” Chris whispered to me.
“Welcome to my day job,” I said sarcastically. And then I whispered back, “Just be patient. This is how he learns.”
Chris sighed in frustration and walked back over to Bean.
In a much calmer voice he said, “Buddy, you’ve got to let me help you. We learn so much more when we let people help us.”
Bean finally gave in and listened a bit, and within a minute or so, he and Chris were laughing and finishing the assignment.
Now, I am not passing judgment in this story. I am not making assumptions or teaching life lessons. Nor am I trying to give my husband a silent message.
All I will say is this… Apple. Tree.