My last post was about fighting, so it only seems right to follow up with talking—to the kids!
Since we have seven kids with vastly different ages, I always have to temper my conversations to some kind of age appropriateness. This is difficult because their ages are always changing. I recently read about what I’m supposed to be doing on the pamphlets that my pediatrician sends me away with. One of the big no no’s from our family doctor is that apparently I should’ve been helping them communicate better and make friends. I mean, it’s not like we don’t have any kids in the house for them to get to know! There are 4 teenagers, two tweens and Leopold. Surely there’s someone to befriend. I say we get a pass on that rule. Still though, every age group is different and, as they get older, it gets harder to talk.
When I talk to my teenagers, I feel like I’m playing ping pong—with a baseball bat.
I’m so “not doing it right.” I’m so “embarrassing.” I’m so not even sure anything I’ve said makes it into their ears because of the damn headphones. Those things have become so discreet, but also so huge. I suppose it depends on the day—whether they feel like wearing the headphones that are as big as a billboard or the ones that double as Q-Tips. Plus, these days, they are basically fused to the kids heads, no matter how big or small they are. I think I’d like it more if it was music and not videos. Or videos about video games. Or videos of people we don’t know playing video games.
And I’m the one who’s not fascinating?
Let’s take dinner last week. One of my four daughters, Milla, was able to make it through an entire meal with them on, without me knowing it. Her phone was on her lap and when she laughed, I thought it was because of something I said. Sneaky.
I think I’m worth the conversation. I think they are too. But having quality conversations—the stuff that KEEPS you in their life, can be tricky.
Since we homeschool many of the kids, I obviously can’t ask what they did at school. Instead I spend our daytime together being a tyrant over their education. So this gets annoying. To all of us. My daughter Earth has learned not to approach me directly after I’ve had my coffee. I’m all over her with schedules, to-do lists, extra credit and electives. She was only wondering if we had more milk.
The tweens are a little more easygoing AND still think Im fabulous. It’s easier to talk, because I still have their attention. I can still take them out and just about buy their love. I know that’s probably not in those doctor pamphlets but hey, when your kids get older, you try anything for together time.
Leopold, the baby (OK…. he’s 5, but he’s MY baby), is still a dream to talk to. I am his everything. We talk about explosions and boogers. Dinosaurs and my pretty hair. He is the only kid who is following my footsteps in ballet, for real this time. Everyone else has dropped out.
I am into together time. Even if it means holding some kids captive, against their will.
This is done best at the dinner table. Seven years ago, I became convinced I was losing touch with my children….and I was. So I began a nightly family ritual at the dinner table “What I Liked About Today and What I Didn’t Like About Today,” designed to get the kids talking—to Pippin and me and to each other. (Even though the teens have retitled it What Sucked and What’s Awesome) You get the idea.
“What I liked about today is that I learned how to ride switch to fakie on my new board. What I didn’t like about today was that I fell and hurt my shoulder.”
“What I liked about today was that we all got to say goodbye to the turtle. What I didn’t like was that we had to put him to sleep because the dog ate him.”
“Whats awesome about today is that I’m finally going to a normal school. What sucks is that I’ve been stuck in the basement in front of a computer so long, that I don’t know how to talk to other kids anymore.”
“What I liked about today is this dinner. What I didn’t like is that the dog just farted. You guys smell that?”
By the time we cycle halfway through these, we are either laughing, annoyed or both.
There is a lot of talking over one another. I have spent almost a decade getting everyone to listen while others are talking. It doesn’t work. It is chaotic and overwhelming. But the point is, they are talking. Even if, by the end of it all, we can’t hear each other speak and it doesn’t look like how I want it to, I can still feel like I’m a part of it all. And with any luck, those headphones are somewhere else for an hour.
So Called Mom
Next Post: To Homeschool…Or Not.