The Petulant Child

No man enjoys being treated like a child. Well, okay, maybe some men do, but that’s an entirely different issue. In fact, that’s probably something to be discussed on an entirely different blog.

At any rate, we men are a prideful lot, and as a general rule we don’t particularly like being told what to do, particularly if we feel we are being talked down to in some way. Of course, the irony is that we men can also be grossly immature and quite often place ourselves in positions where someone has to step in and keep us from completely wrecking ourselves and those around us. It’s no wonder a large majority of us have legendary stories of breaking things (Mine involves a pane of glass on a car port door.); we don’t know whether to be sorry or indignant, so we just wind up pissed off.

So what’s a guy to do when he gets cornered like this? I’ll tell you my first impulse: Start swinging. I don’t mean literally throwing punches (Again, another topic for an entirely different blog…), but rather getting up on my haunches and defending my right to do whatever the hell I feel like doing. I don’t like being nagged, pushed, or cajoled. Case in point: Two days ago, my wife sent me a video on how smartphones and social media are actually eroding society’s ability to connect with each other (I would like to point out, however, that this video was sent to me through Facebook.). I knew she had been concerned about how much time I spend on my phone, so when I received the video I felt harassed. “Well, I ain’t watchin’ that,” I thought.

The reality is, though, that I probably do spend too much time on my smart phone. I joked shortly after getting my first Android phone that gollumhaving it in my pocket was akin to carrying around the One Ring from The Lord of the Rings. Even if I wasn’t using it, I was kind of fiddling with it in my pocket. I did stop short of calling it “my precioussss,” but there weren’t many times of the day I was without it. I switched to an iPhone two weeks ago, and I seem to be even more obsessed with it than the first phone. I should be living in caves and eating raw fish any day now at this rate.

Suggestions have trickled in here and there. “Maybe you shouldn’t keep the phone in the bathroom.” “Maybe you could find a different place to charge the phone.” “Do you have to use the phone right now?” Okay, so that last one wasn’t a suggestion, but to my ears there wasn’t much of a difference tonally from the first two. “You are out of control, and I need to tell you what to do.” That’s what my man ears were hearing, and I was ready to fight. “I can carry my phone wherever I please.” And so on and so forth…

One of my arguments against all this was that every suggestion seemed to paint me as some type of petulant child who couldn’t be trusted without proper supervision. Again, though, irony being what it is, I’ve actually proven several times lately that I can’t be trusted in certain situations. When someone steps in to tell me that, however, my independent streak kicks in. “I can handle this. It’s not that bad. Just back off.”

I think the worst part of all this, though, is the embarrassment for the man. He’s supposed to have it all together, be the family leader, be the rock that doesn’t falter. He’s supposed to be able to conquer addictions and problems and whatever else that comes along. He’s not supposed to have to be told he’s out of control or needs help or isn’t doing the best job. It’s humiliating to have someone sit you down to correct you or tell you you need help, so we lash out, blindly defending ourselves. We want to hang on to our dignity, even though we have this sneaking suspicion we may actually be in the wrong.

This is a ready-made, perfect recipe for depression because everything at its base screams failure. People with depression generally feel as if they’re failing at everything anyway, so instances like these often come as a double-blow. You get really mad at the accusing person, but you’re also pretty ticked at yourself as well. And when you’re angry with everyone, well, what recourse or relief do you have? You just fester, until one day you either move past it or you explode in some kind of ugly way.

To be honest, I can’t say I’m any more thrilled with my wife’s suggestions than when I started writing this. Not necessarily because I think she’s wrong, but because I’m embarrassed she even has to worry about my stupid phone in the first place. Plus, I like checking my email and Facebook in the bathroom, so I may not go down without a fight in this debate. I’m not even sure if I’m right or not, but we males often don’t consider our chances of victory to be that crucial an element in determining whether we fight. We just don’t like being told what to do.

One thought on “The Petulant Child

  1. Pingback: Reformation, Reels, And Reality | Lights In The Darkness

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