I wonder sometimes if it’s just me that worries about these things – what I’m trying to say is that I’m constantly worrying about saying the right thing, especially to those I love hugely.
Here is a brief glimpse into how my life has unfolded as a parent whilst trying to communicate with my kids through the different stages of their lives: –
Baby talk It began from birth – without even a moments thought put into it – we find ourselves immediately trying to say the right thing to our newborns in the right way, with the right tone. Your baby responds to your voice and your mood, so we say things in a soft lulling timbre to keep our newborns calm and content. ahhhh…… a peaceful happy baby = blissful times. “Aahh, Mama loves you, goo goo, ga ga” (said in gentle lilting tone)
Having said this, one cold night whilst living in the North of Vancouver Island, my hubby was away with work and I was trying to emanate calmness through my voice to my way-over-tired-5-month-old-seemingly-unconsolable-baby. On the outside I was trying to rock her gently and say sweet and loving words to calm her while on the inside I was yelling “go to sleep Morgan – arghhh I’m so tired!!!” Two hours of unsuccessful appeasing efforts later, I called my neighbour who came to my rescue by singing and rocking my baby to sleep in all of 2 minutes! Morale of the story – you can’t fake it with your babies – they know what’s going on inside you!
Toddler talk The word “no” can lead to an all out full on out-of-body experience for the toddler in your life. Therefore we find different ways to wrap that word “no” using distraction, bargaining, and also offering options. But we change what we really want to say “no, of course you can’t jump off that 30 foot bridge to see if you can fly” to something that will lead to the type of behaviour we would like to see from our kids – for example, by instead saying “here’s a super-cool-Superman-rock-wall you can jump off!.”
I certainly remember an all-out-throw yourself on the floor-melt-down in the grocery store by one of my girls where I was heard uttering “just you wait until I see your Mother and tell her about your behaviour!” This I believe was said more for the benefit of the judgemental shoppers watching than my child!
Teenage talk The teenage years turns into the walking-on-egg-shells at times. Some parents might define it as working your way through a verbal “minefield”. The majority of parents I talk to say their kid can be in their bedroom by themselves for hours and then come out and just grunt – this making trying to have a conversation to get a peek into your child’s life akin to stepping into a full-on battlefield. Some parents try to talk in what they think is their teenagers’ language saying things like “s’up bro“. This just leads to the rolling of the eyes depicting acute embarrassment of your son/daughter. It’s a tricky stage for sure.
There was a period of several days in a row in my then 14 year old daughters’ life where she was super sarcastic and snarky with any interactions with me the week preceding Halloween. It was so random and strange as normally she was pretty easy to get along. So bizarre? However, on the night of October 31st that year, I received a frantic call from one of her friends asking me to come and help out as the police were trying to haul her off to the Drunk Tank (police confinement for those being severely intoxicated in public) with a shot-glass-on-a-chain-necklace decorating her massively inebriated personage.
After many days and weeks of replaying the whole incident over and over in my head, I concluded that huge acting out and being basically a “nasty piece of work” attitude from my teenager, was a prelude to doing something she knew she shouldn’t be doing. All part of learning the life lessons of communicating with your teenager right?
I now find myself in the “Empty Nest” stage. The afore-mentioned eldest daughter is in Toronto and I probably see her 2-3 times a year and I miss her terribly. (We laugh about the teenage incident now). My youngest daughter is 45 minutes away and we cross paths at least once a week and we have many texts between. I am very cognizant of the fact that I have two very smart and independent daughters, who are now out in the big wide world living their own lives. Therefore I am now trying diligently to not ask a million questions of them and let go of those proverbial “apron strings” whilst also trying to figure out how to end any telephone conversation so they don’t get fed up with me calling! The fact is, that they says they love chatting to me and texting with me so I should just go with that right? But then my brain gets going “am I overdoing it and annoying her?” and second guessing my every word with them. I wish I could stop this inner-voice-chatter going on in my crazy head, and just listen to them when they say they love spending time and chatting with me. Maybe in time, whilst evolving into my new stage in life I will.
For now – my girls are always on my mind and in my heart as I’m sure is the same for a lot of you out there in the “Empty Nester World”. Maybe it’s just who I am – a worrier of “saying the right thing”. Maybe nothing will change…….. stay tuned.