by Julie Watson
Our kids whisper to us every day. We can choose to hear them, or we can brush the whispers off as ‘they’re just being kids’. Sometimes they speak at normal levels, sometimes they scream it at us, but whatever the method, there is always a message.
My kids whisper to me constantly, and I will confess, I don’t always have the time, patience or awareness to really hear what they are saying to me. I am not talking about not understanding them because, for example, my 22 month old calls a banana a “ballalalalala”, or a soother a “sooey”. I am talking about how perceptive they are, and how they comment in their own, innocent and primitive way what they observe in their lives, and need from us…their caregivers, role models and nurturers (not to put the pressure on).
The other day we were packing up to take a long awaited trip to Disney World. I wasn’t even aware that my son, 7, who was engaged in Star Wars Lego action figures, and my daughter, 5, who was re-enacting High School Musical, were even paying attention to me. (just so you know… kids HEAR everything). As I was running through the list of things we needed to bring in my head, I looked at my computer and thought…but apparently said out loud, “hmmmmm….nope, I am NOT going to bring my computer.”
Both kids stood up from what they were doing, jumped up and down and cheered loudly, “YAY!!!!”.
I almost cried. Seriously. I heard them. No, I mean I really heard them. What I heard were 2 kids who needed their mom’s undivided attention…for a change.
You see my computer is set up in the dining room, so I can conveniently do work while they play, watch TV, do homework, essentially so I can multi-task. Even though they might be busy doing their own thing, and I just happen to pop on my computer to check email, or facebook, all they see is ME on my computer, not spending that time with them.
Then they see me when I am doing official work in the evening, and they also see me checking my emails in the morning, so I can be prepared for my day. They wanted me to be right there, present for whatever they might throw my way.
I could have chosen to laugh it off, or assume they were just being ‘needy, selfish kids’, not understanding that my computer is my life blood…(well, maybe it shouldn’t be…), but I didn’t, I chose to hear them and use this vacation to catch-up on some missed opportunities, and time spent with my kids, without saying, “just a second, just let me check this email, just let me write this story, just let me save this file…”
A friend of mine who recently went back to work full-time after her second child, has tried to maintain the same at home balance from her time at home with the kids. She drops her kids off at 7:00 in the morning, and picks them up in time to get home by 5pm, prepare a full, fresh dinner, bathe, play and bed the kids by 7pm, do laundry, clean house, and organize social activities with a husband who works long hours and fiddles with home improvements (sometimes handy to have…though not while you are knee deep in diapers and dishes).
We recently had plans to meet up for dinner. Before she could get out the door, she rolled her hair into curlers, made dinner for the kids, cleaned the dishes and prepped the kids for bed. While she was loading the laundry into the washing machine, curlers and all, her 3 year old peered around the corner into the laundry room and said, “Mommy, why you work so long?”
I think she did cry. Why is it her 3 year old is the one to stop, make notice and question my friend’s actions? Kids are smarter than we think. Listening to the whispers can pay off in giving them what they need, but also in nurturing ourselves and our needs as Mother’s. Just ask my friend.
On a funny note, another friend was telling me about a conversation her 2 kids ages 3 and 5 had in the car. They had been talking about when to call 911. Using examples to identify what constitutes an emergency. While they were talking, the song “911-Fire Burning” by Sean Kingston came on the radio. The 5 year old said, “see mommy, why is he singing about calling 911, what’s the emergency?” and the 3 year old said in the most serious voice (and with a lisp), “don’t you hear him? there’s a fire burning on the dance floor!!”
Listening to the whispers, talk, or shouts can pay off in learning about our kids, their personalities, what they perceive, and how they are really feeling. And some days, it’s just good for a laugh!
Julie Watson is the owner of AfterGlow Health & Fitness in Toronto, for prenatal, postnatal and beyond. When not training, speaking, or writing about Moms & Babes, she apparently spends too much time on her computer, and does her best to listen to her 3 kids. Not necessarily in that order.