The Gift of (Actually) Listening
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** This post is part of a 14 day series. To read more of my “The Gift of…” posts, scroll to the bottom of this post for links.
While out and about yesterday, I stood in the garbage bag and aluminum foil aisle near a mom shopping with her two young boys. The older boy, who I guessed to be about 5, walked next to his mom and sang his own version of what was probably every single Christmas carol he knew. The younger brother sat in the cart and repeated Santa! Saaaaanta! Santaaaaaaaa! over and over again.
The mom hunted for the right size garbage bags.
I looked for aluminum foil and storage containers and freezer bags.
And the older kid sang Jingle Bells with all the wrong words and the younger brother started singing Santaaaaaa Bells and the mom looked at me and mouthed I’m so sorry.
And I said, “It’s okay. Really.”
She turned to Boy 1 and 2 and said quietly, “Boys. Please. Your constant chatter is making me crazy.”
She tossed a box of garbage bags in her cart. I don’t know if they were the right kind, but I’m guessing at that point she didn’t really care.
I’m also guessing we’ve probably all been at that point—where the constant chatter is enough to make us completely and utterly insane.
Life with kids means noise.
Y’all. I don’t know anything about Minecraft. I don’t understand Skylanders. I don’t know Pokemon, Bakugan, Yu-gi-oh or why the Fishstick Sandwich Burrito song was ever such a big hit. I don’t know how narwhals got to be so cool.
But my kids did. And they talked about all of it.
As my kids grew, their chatter became more technical. Suddenly, it was terabytes and pixels and processors and RPGs and FPSs.
And I still didn’t understand most of that they were talking about.
But that didn’t stop them from talking about it c-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y.
If ever someone needed proof that kids learn outside of what their parents or teachers teach them, mine were both living, breathing examples.
Sometimes you just want a break from the babble.
If you’ve had a full day with your kids, you know what it’s like to want to not listen. Back when my kids were younger, for the sake of my sanity and the safety of all involved, I sometimes needed ear plugs.
I needed to separate.
I needed some peace and quiet instead of the babble and buzz and ridiculous level of blah (!) blah (!!) blah (!!!) that can exist in a home that holds children.
But I needed to listen, and you need to, too.
Like, actually listen.
Yes, sometimes there are those mindless moments where we are nodding our heads and saying, Mmmmhmmm. Mmmmmhmmm. Oh, that’s nice.
I think we can all admit that we all do that.
And yes, we need a break from the noise—and that’s perfectly okay—because sometimes it feels like our ears will literally start dripping blood if we don’t get some peace and quiet.
We also need to understand that when we listen, we pick up on things. Like creepers and zombies in Minecraft are bad or there are different elements in Pokemon.
And then you know what we can do? We can interject things into their babbling conversation and surprise the heck out of our kids. Not because it makes us look super cool, but because it makes our kids feel like what they are interested in is valuable. It makes our kids feel important and it encourages them.
The other awesome thing is that listening clues you in to what your kids are working on and what goals they have. When your kids talk, they’re telling you about their life. Sometimes it’s in what they say, sometimes it’s in how they say it, and sometimes it’s in what they don’t say.
Are you listening?
Actually listening is a gift for them, but it’s also a gift for you. Much like the mess we sometimes have to deal with, the noise that our children make is a sure sign that our children are here.
Alive and breathing and healthy.
But the noise eventually goes away…
If you’re in the midst of the constant hum and babble of children—especially young ones— it’s hard to believe that a quiet time will ever come.
But it happens.
It’s the way things work.
It’s this weird sort of circle of life thing that happens in parenting.
I have lots of silly videos taken in and around the crazy babbly noisy chatter that used to be my normal.
And it’s kind of weird. Because the crazy babbly noisy chatter sounds different to me now. Less obnoxious and somehow more gorgeous and beautiful.
(And yes, I realize how old I sound when I say that.)
Take the time to listen now.
Your children will move up and away and into their own lives and—after some time of recovery—you will declare your home to be too quiet.
So, just listen now. Actually listen.
Yes, it’s important to take a break for some peace and quiet when you can, but the rest of the time…
…maybe consider carrying band-aids for your ears. 🙂
This post is part of a 14 day series, written across both sites that I run.
Gift #1 — The Gift of an Open Door
Gift #2 — The Gift of One of Those Days
Gift #3 —The Gift of a Dog’s Friendship
Gift #4 — The Gift of Mess
Gift #5 — The Gift of Our Silence
Gift #6 — The Gift of Routine
Gift #7 — The Gift of Community
Gift #8 — The Gift of Three Things Unsaid
Gift #9 — The Gift of Perspective
Gift #10 — The Gift of Being Real
Gift #11 — The Gift of a Bowl of Corn
Gift #12 — The Gift of Encouragement
Gift #13 — The Gift of Unanswered Prayers
Gift #14 — The Gift of Actually Listening