Couch Conversations

On Friday night I let the Roc stay up and watch the latest episode of The Biggest Loser with me.  He likes to watch the contestants try to complete the physical challenges and see how they’ve changed over time.

I like watching with him because he gets so excited for the contestants and he cheers them on.  He sits next to me and says, “Come on!  You can do it!  Keep trying!” as they struggle to complete obstacle courses, grueling physical tasks, and puzzles.  He doesn’t like it when they cry and worriedly looks to me to see what I look like.  He often asks me, “Why does your face look like that?” as I hold back tears.  I can’t help it, watching the contestants transform is uplifting and sometimes their stories are heart wrenching, so it’s hard for me not to cry.

Watching with him has led to some interesting conversations on the couch.

This season there is a contestant who has trouble controlling his emotions.  He freaks out and yells when a challenge is something that makes him really uncomfortable.  I often feel uncomfortable watching this man get angry, and his man tantrums remind me of a certain someone who lives in my house.  I’ve wondered if the Roc would make a connection to his own angry outbursts and this man.  A couple weeks ago the Roc whispered, “Come on Rob, you can do it.  Come on!” as Rob got over his freak out and mustered up the courage to rappel down a waterfall.  (For the record, I may have freaked out if someone told me to do the same!)

“Yes!  He did it!  That looked so scary!” the Roc exclaimed while Rob celebrated his accomplishment at the bottom of the waterfall.

“He got pretty mad at the top didn’t he?” I asked the Roc.

“Yeah, he got mad like I do sometimes.”

I didn’t say anything else at that time and the Roc started talking about next challenge as the show moved on.  During last weeks episode Rob started to lose control again when he was presented the challenge of vertically jumping onto a box and the Roc said,

“Oh no, there he goes again!”

“He gets really mad a lot doesn’t he?” I asked the Roc.

“Yeah….maybe he has autism!” the Roc exclaimed, his eyes lighting up.

“Hmmm.  I don’t know, no one has said so on the show, but you never know.  Either way he really needs to learn to control himself doesn’t he?”

“Yeah, I’ve been working on that.  He should too.”

Later, during the weigh-in the Roc said the before pictures of the contestants “looked scary” and I asked him to clarify.

“Their bellies look scary…so big like that….that is not good.  Is that unhealthy Mommy?”

I agreed and then we talked about what the show is about:  How the winner is the one who has lost the most weight, and how eating poorly and not moving around enough had led to their weight gain in the first place.  By losing the weight they would be able to do things they hadn’t before.

“Like that lady who said she could be the fun Mommy now!” he said.   “Exactly,” I agreed.

Sitting next to him on Friday night I realized that he had been watching the show without any judgement or criticism.  He is all about the facts and never had anything bad to say about anyone on the show.  In fact, I don’t ever hear him say anything bad about anyone.  He doesn’t work that way.  In a world where we so often hear people around us making judgements and being critical of others, when they don’t know anything about them, it is absolutely refreshing to see that those thoughts do not come naturally to my child.  It’s not something I did, a way I did or did not parent him, it’s just part of who he is.  Though I would hope that some of the our conversations about negative experiences he has had with peers and the right way to treat others have sunk in…it’s just not in his nature to be judgmental or critical of others.

I love that about him.