Today was a day of celebrating my son’s 23rd birthday. I told him we would do whatever he wanted to do. He was having a tough time deciding because he knew in his heart of hearts, I wanted to hit the big city, San Francisco, to finally see the sights. He cared more about how I wanted to spend his birthday than he did. That is the kind of thoughtful young man he is.
After much talk, I asked what he would do to celebrate if I weren’t here. He was finally honest and said he’d go see a movie and have lunch somewhere. So…we loaded up and went to see The Jungle Book at a state of the art theater, complete with a food court, reclining seats and a screen as large The Great Wall. We shared popcorn and enjoyed the movie.
Afterwards, after more indecision, we decided on a Mexican place for lunch. Joseph said, “Mom, please don’t tell them it’s my birthday because all the servers bring you a hat and sing Happy Birthday very loudly at your table.” Of course, what was the first thing I did? Secretly told the hostess it was his birthday. I mean, come on, everybody says they don’t want a fuss made about their big day, but deep down, of course they want it acknowledged, right? Unbeknownst to me, Joe had overheard me talking to the staff member and suddenly became very distance and quiet. This went on for about 15 minutes and the awkward silence was extremely uncomfortable. When I finally asked what was wrong, he told me I had gone against his wishes and that he truly disliked that kind of attention and the loudness of the singing. What an eye-opener! I always protest that kind of attention, when really I crave it. I assumed he felt the same. Wrong! Again, I had made his birthday, all about me. This was classic “old behavior” and this time I didn’t catch it. I apologized and told Joe I was wrong and should have honored his wishes. After redeeming myself by telling the waitress, “No singing, but he’ll still take the free birthday ice cream”, all was right in the world again. Joe even excepted the sombrero and wore it for pictures.
I learned from this mistake. What I would want for myself is not necessarily what others want for themselves. I shouldn’t assume how other people feel, I should respect their wishes at face value. I had a great day doing exactly what Joe wanted to do for his birthday. Instead of feeling like I missed out on a day of sight-seeing in San Francisco, I felt like I had learned something new about my son and also about myself. Good day indeed.