Sam: Mom, what’s ‘chaos’?
Me: Well, do you remember ‘Cacophony and discord’ from school? Your entire class played tin whistles loudly and without direction? Chaos is like that; it’s disorder.
*I would personally define the ‘cacophony and discord’ school lesson as hell on earth, but I didn’t think I should share that.
Sam: Well, I have chaos in my head when Mia cries.
*Mia is crying because she wasn’t allowed to buy (yet another) princess dress. The sparkly one hanging eye-level right as we entered the store. Thanks Kohls.
Me: Hm. What does that feel like in your head?
Me: And what helps?
Sam: drinking water and eating a snack. And cleaning.
Me: do you think some peaceful music might help too?
Sam: Um, yeah.
*So we put on the classical channel and our 5 minute drive home went from chaos to calm. Then we got home and had some water and a snack:)
I find that learning our children is so time consuming! It would be so much faster just to respond to Sam’s confession with something like, “Oh Sam, don’t say that”….”just ignore her”…or just ignore him! I believe this is how children begin to feel as though their parents aren’t really interested in them or view them as a valuable contributor to the family. Instead of shutting them up or assuming we know what they’re talking about all the time (how annoying would THAT be in OUR relationships with others???), asking open-ended questions without judgment can greatly enrich your relationship, your understanding of your child, and their trust of you.
My conversation with Sam reminded me again of just how important it is to take the time to learn our children. They are unique beings with unique strengths, weaknesses, preferences, vocabulary… and we become more patient, effective and confident parents the more we learn our children!
For me, this time-consuming endeavor has meant that other things are put on hold. Most recently, fiddling on my beloved iphone (i.e. my connection to civilization!) I’ve begun putting my phone away during the day and checking messages at designated times for a designated amount of time. This helps me be more present while interacting with my kids instead of trying to juggle it with texting/facebooking (again, how annoying would THAT be in OUR friendships if we had to compete for their eye-contact or full attention???)
I would love to hear how you seek to learn your children and what you are discovering!
Love this reminder. How self-aware of Sam to isolate his feelings like that. So time consuming but so worth it!
I know, right! I think some of his chronic frustration has been that he doesn’t have the words yet to put to his feelings. I like that he chose chaos!
Tommi, I love this. It’s so hard raising kids. Reading things like this help reset my perspective and persevere. Thanks, girl!
What a great piece, Tommi!! Listening to and having these talks with our kids is vital to their feeling of value and worth!! I love the mental images I get when reading about your latest adventures. You rock. I miss you and the Kirkpatrick platoon!!
Thank you, Tammy! You set a pretty good example for us as we were entering parenthood in all our “how hard can it be” attitude;)
Loved this message. And, it is not age sensitive! being in my 60’s (oh my), I have learned yet another good lesson! Thank you!