On Friday night we were hanging out with some good friends that just got back from visiting family in Canada. They were there for two weeks. The plane ride home is about two hours and it turned out that one of the tv’s in the back of the seat was broken. The mom being the nice and good mom that she is switch seats with her oldest daughter who is seven so that her daughter would be able to watch tv. The mom (M for short) didn’t have any books, the headset jack was broken, and she had nothing to do. This was going to be pure pleasure for M after having spent two weeks with family, she was finally going to get some much need quiet alone time.
M’s seven-year old daughter is a sweetheart, and one of my daughter’s best friends. I’ll call her mini M for short. Mini M observed that her mom wasn’t watching tv and was just sitting there. She asked why, pointed out that others were watching tv and then when she realized that her mom couldn’t watch tv decided she wouldn’t either so she could keep her mom company.
M was relating this story to us, telling us how much she just needed the quiet time to her self and while it was sweet that mini M wanted to keep M company she really didn’t want it. I of course gave her a hard time about how she could want to ignore her daughter after doing such a sweet thing. Then she and her husband (well call him D) started talking about how mini M will start talking about some topic and go on and on and take for ever to get to the point, something our seven-year old does too. And they were saying how they try so hard to stay with her but end up doing other things and absently say “yah,… ok, ….mmmhhmmm..” and as I was giving them a hard time about it I realized that I, and my wife do that too. So I say to Mel “You know what we do that too often too.” “Do what?” “Blow of Haley while she’s talking.”
We all started cracking up because I absolutely identified with no uncertain terms what we were doing to our children even though it was unintentional. If you have younger kids you may not yet understand, but you will. It’s not something you do intentionally, but in the hurricane we call life it happens. Your trying to get everything done in your day. You need to move from place to place and hustle your children to the next event. As a result they can be talking to you about something that “you have deemed nothing” and you might not be listening to them because of some other priority. It’s easy to get distracted and it’s easy to not realize that you’re doing that. So don’t forget, don’t forget to sit down and give your undivided attention once in a while. You can’t do it all the time but make sure you carve out once a day to truly connect with your kids. Let them know how important it is that they know they can tell you anything and celebrate with them when they are proud of themselves, and help them when they need it. Also recognize when they tell you, you aren’t listening, that they’re probably right. So take a second to step back and understand what they are trying to tell you, even if it does take them 45 minutes to communicate something that can be communicated in 2 minutes. Remember they’re developing the language and communication skills they will use as an adult.