Listening In

Does your kid ever appear to tune you out, only to find out they’re really listening?

When my youngest was small he LOVED the word “no.” He used it so often you’d wonder if he truly understood the meaning or was just messing with you. My husband and I decided to see how much he was listening to us by changing up the questions. “Are you hungry?” “No!” “Are you tired?” “No!” “Do you want to play with a toy?” “No!” “Do you want a million dollars?” Pause. “Yes!” So, he was listening.

Speed up to teens years, both youngest and oldest engage with my husband and I in different ways. The youngest more likely to talk and listen. The oldest more likely to nod, shake head, or grunt. Texting is sometimes the most effective way to get messages across. 😂

Though I’m unclear how often our sons actually listen to us, I was happily surprised when we were sitting in a movie and the previews were showing. Normally we tune them out, unless something about them really catches our attention. I wish I could remember which trailer it was but the preview showed the main character conflicted about what to do in a situation and clearly a future act of violence was on their mind. The supporting character said, “Don’t get even by hurting those that did wrong by you, but get even by doing right by those that helped you.” There was an audible gasp for those in the theater. It was profound in focusing on taking the high road, making choices that lead to opportunity, it was so well said and I was glad it didn’t come from my husband or I. The audible gasp by others in the theater caught my boys attention. What was just said was important perhaps even wise. They were listening.😊

How do you get your kid to listen (particularly when trying to get an important point across)? Have any parent-hacks you can share around how you got your child to listen?

Movie Night

What’s the last movie you watched as a family?

We typically do movie night on Saturdays. We rotate who gets to pick the movie. Sometimes we take a vote. It was my husband’s turn and he chose 10 Things I Hate About You. The movie came out in 1999, and is/was a modern day take on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. My husband picked it for some of the local background (being shot in and around the Puget Sound), and for the story.

I had seen the movie before, but missed a message that likely didn’t resonate with me the first time I saw it, two decades ago. In the scene, the single father is talking to his oldest daughter who is desperately seeking her independence and expresses herself by rebelling against any boxes others put her in (how she’s supposed to act, dress, and/or care about others opinions). The father has a heart-to-heart with his daughter at one point in the movie, understanding that her standing on her own is unavoidable. He is realizing how fast time is going (and has gone), and wants to connect with her while there is still time left. He makes his plea, noting she’s had him watching on the sidelines (vs. being in the game or on the field together) for some time. When I first saw the film, this statement went right past me. This time in stuck. With my boys bring 16 and 14, my husband and I were being directed to the sidelines more and more often.

I discussed it with my oldest a few days later. I referred to the scene in the movie, and shared my awareness of his growing desire for more independence. “Our time is limited. You’ll be on your own before you know it. I know you want your independence, but please let your father and I in, even a little more, just so we can better know you before you are off on your own.” I’m not sure my son understands that he is a mystery to anyone, but he has become a bit of a mystery to my husband and I, as his desire is to mostly be in his room, or out with friends. Only having short, pointed conversations with us here or there, making us curious who he is, what he’s thinking, and what he thinks about things (issues, himself, life in general). We’ll keep trying. I’m not ready to fully be ‘in the stands’ just yet. 😊

What do you connect over as a family? What movie scenes have stuck with you in regards to your parenting journey?

I’ll be off next week celebrating Memorial Day with family and friends and will return in June.

A Different Mother’s Day

This year Mother’s Day will be different. Many of us are still at home, sheltering in place, wearing face masks when we venture out, and are social distancing to keep ourselves and others safe.

I normally crave time to myself on Mother’s Day to relax and rest — maybe even take in a movie if I’m feeling adventurous. We will all be home together this year with no opportunity to venture out much past our neighborhood and that’s okay. The benefits of being at home together has taken on new meaning for us — we seem to have a renewed appreciation for one another. Not having to run around to get kids here or there, or myself here or there, and being overloaded with things to do has waned. The chaos of my pre-COVID-19 life has settled into a more peaceful existence. I used to yearn for the peace I have now and saw Mother’s Day as my opportunity to achieve it — but this year the gift of peace came unexpectedly, and I plan to relish it for as long as it lasts.

This Mother’s Day, I will do what I’ve been doing with my family since the pandemic arrived — be together — oh, and I might rent a movie we can all watch together.

How is the pandemic changing your Mother’s Day?

Happy Mother’s Day!