Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Don't interrupt me!

Developmental milestones are undeniably exciting during the baby years and through toddlerhood. When your child utters her first word or his first sentence, as a parent, you are relieved, overjoyed and overcome with  visions of potential. For a while, you just can't get enough. Curiously, it doesn't take long before you'd give anything for a little quiet time. Because once kids start talking, they can really talk! Sometimes I need to remind our kids to breathe. We used to go places and play the "quiet game" with our kids. Nobody ever lasted very long but the few moments (maybe seconds) of silence were well worth that lollipop or bouncy ball we promised as a prize. Our kids don't just talk a lot, they tend to talk at or over one another. I like to think they are supremely well behaved at school but, I have to admit, at home, they are interrupters. Each one is certain she is the victim of interrupting more frequently than her sisters but there are no innocents among them.

I'd like to believe that the interruptions flow from the fact that they are just too excited about the world around them to contain themselves. Maybe there's some of that. Unfortunately, I think it's often a case of not stopping to listen to whether someone else is speaking. When I speak with our children, I'm often interrupted with something that has nothing whatsoever to do with whatever it is I'm saying. This means that I'm not being listened to in the first place. I often wonder, when I'm saying something to Jeff or the kids if they hear me or my voice at all or if they hear the teacher from the old Peanuts television specials who sounds like, "wah-wah-wah-wah-wah". Sometimes it's hard to escape the glaring reality.

To some extent, I'm glad that the kids interrupt one another and I suspect it's precisely the interrupting one another that will get them to eventually stop. Nobody likes the way it feels when they're interrupted and while our kids may not hear everything I say, they frequently hear me remind them to treat others the way they want to be treated and they frequently utter those words to others. They get the message. I think I might just sit in silence for a little while and hope it sinks in soon.

The best known awards in the world of children's books are the Caldecott and Newbery medals that are presented by the American Library Association.. The 2011 winners were announced yesterday. The Caldecott medal, for illustration, was presented to Erin Stead for the enchanting A Sick Day for Amos McGee, a fabulously delightful book that was referenced in this blog a couple of months ago. In addition to the big winner, Caldecott honor books were announced as well; among them was David Ezra Stein's Interrupting Chicken. Little chicken brings interrupting to a whole new level when her father tries to read her a bedtime story. So fun!

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