A few things about parenting and listening (and farting)

“Can you say ‘Momma? Say ‘ball? ‘Moo’ says the cow. Can you say ‘moo?’”

I said these things hundreds of times to my kids when they were babies, encouraging them to talk.

“’Why don’t you ever ask for Daddy? No, I don’t have time to play ball with you. Stop ‘mooing,’ Little Cow, you are giving Momma a headache.”

I've said these things thousands of times to my kids since they started talking, begging them to shut the hell up.

I used to wish my kids would stop asking me for, and about so many things. Now that it’s gotten quieter and my kids spend so much time doing their own things because they know more things, I find myself missing the incessant chatter about random things. I wonder what they are thinking, learning, and doing.

I WANT TO KNOW ALL THE THINGS!

Everyday I ask them about things and everyday they tell me things. I know that it if I ignore my kids when they are talking about things, or ask them to stop taking to me about things, that’s what they will do. And I don’t want that to happen. At least not completely, even if there are moments when I still want them to shut the fuck up. (Which is one of the reasons why I fart in front them and in front of their friends whenever I get the chance. They need to know that I have the power to silence them, to suffocate them when they have pushed things a bit too far)

I know that unless I make a habit of being a good listener, I might find myself in a position where I am the last person my kids want to talk to and I won’t have a clue who they are talking to, and what holy hell THAT person is saying to them.

Yesterday, I initiated a conversation with my son about things. We tend to have a lot of conversations, but yesterday was particularly challenging for me. I’m one of those people who dig intimacy and connectedness. I try to make sure to find a lot of time to listen to and talk to my kids about things. (I try not to fart during these special times)

I incorrectly assumed that once he was a teenager, he wouldn’t tell me too many things, but he tells me a LOT of things. He knows what things I’ll keep confidential and what things I will tell another parent, medical professional or someone in law enforcement if need be. I know that I’d want another parent to tell me things about my kid that concerned them, especially if these things concerned my kid's physical, emotional or spiritual well being.

So far, I haven’t had to say a word to anyone about anything, although recently, I’ve wanted to, because man, things are changing! My son has friends who really want to tell their parents things, but some of them claim that their parents don’t want to listen to anything they have to say and instead just want to tell them things.

And the thing is, I get this. I really do.

It’s hard to listen. (It’s hard to hold in farts, too, and that’s actually the main reason why I fart in front of my kids and their friends, I mean, it’s not just a way to embarrass everyone and demonstrate power. Holding ‘em in is painful)

As my kids get older, I'm finding especially difficult to listen to them say stupid things and watch them do stupid things. Part of growing up is messing up, but that doesn’t make it any easier to stand by and watch them mess things up or let others mess up their things.

Why others think, act and believe the way they do is sometimes confusing and this is especially true when one lacks the context and experience to apply to a situation. This is the main reason why kids and grown-ups so often have trouble understanding and listening to each other.

Kids lack context and experience, making it impossible to really understand the way grown ups see things, and grown-ups don’t realize that it’s impossible for kids to fully understand things without context and experience. It’s like we aren’t even talking about the same things.

Now this doesn’t mean we can’t hear what each other out and gain some understanding, because we can! If we listen to the things each other has to say, we gain a little context and experience from the other person’s context and experience.

I said that yesterday’s conversation was challenging for me, and it was, but in a good way. I talk too much. I overthink things. I have context and experience. My kids don’t have as much, but they are old enough to have collected some, enough to understand a lot of things! If they choose to talk about things, I create a positive listening environment and not run my mouth about all the things I think they should know. (Or rip a nasty toot)

So when my son was telling me yesterday about his friend who doesn’t think his parent(s) listen to anything, I thought to myself – Self…don’t judge, because you talk too damn much and don’t listen enough. I mean, sheesh, your kids probably say the same thing about you to their friends (and from what your kids say, their friend’s parents don’t fart in front of them so…)

The thing is, in that moment when I was NOT talking (and not farting), one thing became clear. My kids need for me to listen more and talk (and fart) less, because if I don’t, they aren’t going to hear the things I say when they really need to hear them. (And the rank farts are probably more toxic and killing their brain cells)

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Find this awesome GIF at ReBloggy

Man, it’s hard for me to just listen. I want to tell them things, instead of listen to them tell me things. Yesterday, I challenged myself to just listen, because my son had so many things to say. He’s really trying hard to figure out how to handle some important things.

I’m worried that he won’t.

But I’m more worried that if I don’t become a better listener, he won’t learn to be one either, and he will stop listening to other people when they talk, and if that happens, he will never figure out these very important things. The more he wants to talk about things, the more I recognize the reality that my urge to tell him things about what I think I know about these things, might cause him think I don’t think he figure things out on his own, or that he can't teach me anything by telling me things, because he CAN and he does.

Yeah, I need to keep working on this listening thing.

I may talk too much, but I listen enough to know that I have a lot of things left to learn. Yesterday, for the first time in what I am sure is far too long of a time, I shut my mouth. I listened as my son told me some things about a friend that were mildly troubling without saying anything about what I know about these type of things.

I knew my kid knew things, but I didn’t know the extent of these things! He knows the things he needs to do, to say and NOT to say to help his friend. His levelheaded assessment of the situation was an amazing thing to see. He didn’t need me to say a thing. I'm so glad I didn't. I was fucking hard.

I’d like to think he’s listened to the things I’ve talked to him about and that this has played some part in his awesome grasp of things, but based on what I heard yesterday, and what I know about things, I can’t claim any credit. All the things I would have said didn’t apply. Understanding some things doesn’t require experience or context, it just requires a person to listen and learn things.

Yesterday, I listened. I learned things. It killed me not to talk at first, but it got easier. I hope it keeps getting easier, as we both have a lot of things to say and learn. One thing I do know, is that yesterday, my son heard every word I didn’t say to him, and knows the same holds true for what he had to say to me. I hope that because of this, he’s more likely to listen to the things I say in the future, because I may not know all the things, but there are some fucking things he is going to need to know and I need him to fucking listen.

So my new thing is talking less and listening more. I'm hoping that with practice, I'll continue to get better at shutting the fuck up. It really is an important interpersonal skill, you know?  I wish I could say  was going to fart less and hold 'em in more often, but you know, one thing at a time, right?

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