Children are notorious for hearing things differently than we’ve actually said, and for perceiving reality as different than it is. Last week my three year old son came timidly out of the bedroom a mere fifteen minutes after I had finished singing him a lullaby, explaining that he had slept and was ready to play. We spent the next fifteen arguing about whether he had actually slept of not. “I know that you didn’t sleep, now it’s time to go take a nap!” I would repeat. It was important to me that he didn’t think he could get away with lying to me. Quite instantly, it hit my like a load of bricks as I slowed down to actually hear his plea. I heard him to understand, instead of listening just to respond. There was genuine belief in his words. His expression was desperate and I could see that he just wanted me to believe him. He truly believed he had slept, and our conversation (for him) was not about the nap, but was about hoping I would trust him. Now my insistence that I knew he was lying was teaching him that I don’t trust his word; that I think he’s a liar. Suddenly that afternoon nap was much less important than laying a foundation of trust in my relationship with him. Our conversation quickly changed, “are you sure you napped?” I asked through squinted eyes. His simple response was heavy with relief, “yes.”
“and you feel, rested and ready for this afternoons adventures?”
His response became slightly more energetic while I could see he was still leery of getting his hopes up, “yes!”
“Okay, then lets go turn off your sounds.”
Our tiny ritual which seals the deal of sleep time being over. Turning off the white noise machine.
In the past month we have moved, changed daycare/babysitter plans three times, lived temporarily at my moms house, and have otherwise been incredibly busy and detached. It’s been a rough transition for both of us, but of all things, valuing communication has eased the season more than I ever imagined. It’s no secret that adults struggle to communicate efficiently and a well known fact that children often gesture and grunt instead of actually talking. It’s also well known that only 20% of communication is actually words. listening for that other 80% of communication destroys frustration and has overall significantly improved my relationships on every level.
Life has so many phases, and arguably, most of them have high potential for awkward. Falling over your shoes on the way to your first day of kindergarten, that haircut you couldn’t wait to grow out. How about looking back at evidence from middle school picture days? The transition into high school, then things seemed to smooth out heading into college. We all seemed to get the whole “new school” routine down by then. Puberty is right at the top of that awkward list, but I’m willing to bet there another phase even tougher. That post-college age.
Leaving high school and heading into college was one of my first experiences with friends moving in any kind of different direction than I was going. Friend groups expanded, shifted and finally settled just in time for heartbreaking good-byes as we each accepted one different scholarships, pursued different areas of passion and potential. My personal story was a little different. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study after high school so I spent the summer working in Yosemite National Park. Yet another one of the many directions my friend group split.
So here we are now. 6 years after graduating high school. Those who graduated from college are among the many racers searching for that ideal job, utilizing the degree they’ve finally been awarded after all the years of hard work. Others are continuing their education, applying to graduate programs and masters programs. Some are married with children, others (like myself) just have the kiddo part of the family. We are all busier than we could have ever imagined we would be. One thing brings us all back together; one thing most of us have in common. A great many of us are living with roommates who also raised us. Yep, we “moved home” to our parents place. glory.
I’m pretty sure this part of life is the most awkward. A large addition to why this season of life wins the awkward turtle trophy is because we are the first generation (on such a grand scale) trying to navigate life this way. This is one of the only things we have in common with the community who has walked the majority of life (so far) with us. We have all found ourselves so busy, we forget to connect in a meaningful way with our peers. This may be one of the first seasons of life when we need community and friends most, but they aren’t convenient anymore. They aren’t the next dorm, or the next tent-cabin over. They are hardly doing the same things in life, so we have to actually try to make time for them amongst our busiest life.
So life is awkward, because we have no idea what we’re doing and we’ve lost touch with any outside opinion we will actually listen to because we’ve all learned long ago to only listen to our parents selectively.