As promised, here’s another post about my quest to help Mike build up his self-esteem. My technique is simple to describe: I ambush him with my love.
Do you remember the character “Kato” in the Pink Panther movies? He was the house boy of Inspector Clouseau. (I know, asian “house boy”… It was the 60s.) His job, other than presumably to clean the apartment and make martinis, was to always try to catch the Inspector off-guard and attack him. Ostensibly this was to keep the Inspector in top-form, but it always turned into a hilarious, slapstick fight, and was my favorite part when I was a kid.
Now I think of myself as Kato, and my job is to do sneak-attacks on Mike. Of course I say “I love you” to him, and I’m sure he appreciates it in theory, but to him it probably seems pro forma. You know, like what you’re supposed to say. “Of course you love me, you’re my mom.”
For it to really sink in with him, I have to surprise him and show him in unusual ways. For example, he has the bad habit of biting and picking at his cuticles and the skin around his nails. I would love for him to stop, and I’ve tried constantly reminding him, covering fingers with bandaids, and yelling. All those work for about 5 minutes each, and then he forgets and goes back to work on his thumbs.
So one day I knelt down next to him, held his hands in mine, and quietly told him how much I love his body and how special his body is to me. I looked at his thumbs and told him that I really loved his thumbs, and it made me sad to see him making them bleed. I looked right into his eyes and asked him if he could do me a favor and take care of those thumbs for me. I kissed both his thumbs, and gave him a hug.
The next day I took him aside and quietly looked at his hands. The skin around his thumbs was getting smoother! I thanked him for taking such good care of his thumbs, and told him that it made me feel so good that the skin was healing. We talked about how much better they looked, and he said they felt better too.
Now I try to make sure to do this about once a day, and I think there are two reasons why this is working. First, he was surprised by it. Who talks about loving thumbs? Second, I did it quietly which was also surprising. You’re probably not shocked to learn that I’m not a particularly quiet talker, and changing my voice in this way seemed to get his attention.
So in a nutshell, the Love Ambush. Give it a try.