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

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's not my fault; I just have a lot to say!

A few days ago, I blogged about the talkative nature of our children. Last night the tables were turned. As I tried to help one child understand complicated concepts in her history homework, I was rewarded with an eye roll whenever my discourse ran on too long. A couple of nights earlier, when I tried to help a different child with vocabulary homework, I noticed she tuned out once I started to explain my responses. In the earlier blog post referenced above, I surmised that my family doesn't always listen to me. The experience over the last few nights was a little different and somewhat unsettling. These were situations that forced me to come to terms with my tendency to talk too much. I had to admit - at least to myself - that sometimes they tune me out because I've already said what needed to be said and it's time to move on. Truth be told, I'm even aware of it when the words keep pouring out long after the discussion should have ended but it's almost as if I have the floor and I may never get it back so I ought to keep on going. I don't think my sentences are quite as run on when I speak with anybody other than my daughters so I had to ask myself what was really going on.

I suspect it all has something to do with the fact that as tweens and a teen, our kids are trying to do so much on their own as they forge an independent path and I know that my window of time to teach values, responsibility and life lessons is closing. I think my long-winded answers and comments are my way of extending that window. I want more time to teach them all the things I think they need to know. In addition to that, I want to extend the window during which they value what I have to say. My conscious, rational self knows that there is a reason why marketing professionals look for the elevator pitch or the pithy tag line that packs a punch. People remember the concise statements that consist of carefully chosen words. We have a lot to say to our kids, we just don't have to say it all at once. I know this. I just don't always remember to put on the brakes.

I love the way mothers talk to their children in picture books. Those moms get to be sweet, supportive and mushy and they get no eye rolling in return. When I was about to launch into a supportive talk the other night, one of my daughters asked me to stop before I started. I always get a kick out of the Robert Munsch classic Love You Forever. You know the one; throughout the ages and stages of the child, the mother sings“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”   When her grown child lives on his own, we see the mom drive through the night, put a ladder up against the side of his house, crawl in to his bedroom through the window, scoop him out of bed and rock him as she sings, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” Seriously - no eye roll, no head roll, nothing. You gotta love the magical powers of storytelling!

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