Noe (15) comes in my room just when I’m ready to go to sleep. He wants to talk, and I know about what. He had a conflict with his father. I thought they had reconciled. So what is his pain?
“We said our sorrys, but they came with buts” – he says.
“And at the end, Martijn summerised what our deal was. He concluded that I would do my best not to be late.”
I know how disturbing it is for Martijn that Noe never leaves the house in time to get to school or to his activities on time. I ask:
“So what’s wrong with that? ” I would be thrilled if Noe could change his habit of chronic lateness. But I have serious doubts if it can be achieved with one short discussion.
“I don’t know, there’s nothing wrong with it, but…”
“Do you want to get in the habit and leave on time?”
“What would be different if you left on time?”
“I would not be stressed.”
“Why are you stressed?”
“Because I leave late but still try to get there on time in order not to disrespect the teachers and the coaches.”
“On a scale of 10, how hard do you want to leave on time on a regular basis?”
“What score would you give to the likelihood that it is actually going to happen?”
“So what is going to hold you back?”
“It’s too difficult to get up from the couch.”
I stopped here because I wanted to think about this. What is it that he wants from me? My help to change his chronic lateness? Or my help to resolve his conflict with Martijn? Should I pursue this chance and guide him to change his bad habit anyway? I will have to ask him.
The next morning, business as usual: he was late from school, and in the afternoon late again, for his tennis training. I was furious and he was saying it was none of my business.
I see it now, he merely wanted me to help him resolve his conflict with his father the other day. He had no intention to try to change at all.
If I tried to talk to him about changing his priorities, I would not get through. Not yet. I am ready to stay out of this and keep my fingers clean. He will get to the point of really wanting to change once the consequences become serious enough. But I will keep asking him every now and then if he wants my help.