We sat down at the kitchen table for lunch as we do everyday, well, most days. There are times when I take advantage of food’s ability to stop all conversations and abuse its power to solely connect with a human for 20 minutes while they feed their face; on occasion I intentionally skip snack to ensure we all sink into solitude. Or, I give Haze and Mae applesauce and cottage cheese with the understanding that they will mix the two; giving me at least another five minutes to, yah, you know, check Facebook.
Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy eating together and the conversations that take place around our dinner table will only get better as the kids age. Starting the understanding now, that meals are gathering times for the family, is important for us, but lunch is one of those in-betweens that I am less bent on making a “moment”, leaving it as more of a pit stop in the day.
It was today, that while we sat in our ever-changing spots at the table, I looked over and noticed a mole on Haze’s shoulder. It reminded me of Robespierre (who I think enjoys her “blog” name a little too much), I stared with no real thoughts going through my head, just observing a single indelible dot where someday a suit jacket may dart. I looked up again, with a glazed over gleam and gazed at Mae with half opened eyes (doing some serious thinking), I was stopped by the part in her hair, a pony tail that she put in “all by myself dad”, and wondered who’s ears she heard through. (If you haven’t made it a regular practice, stare at only your ears in the mirror for a few moments.) I broke the jaw grinding silence with a goofed-out face and noise, compelled to remind them I was there.
I talk to our kids a lot. If not calling for supper, I’m explaining the art of wiping, asking for the little screwdriver to get to a battery hole, pleading for “things” to “please” stop, sharing my view of Seuss, expressing my insane love, or gasping in grunted growls after pulling the wagon up the street.
Communication is imperative, it goes without saying, but sometimes I need to close my mouth. I get tired of hearing myself speak, so, I can only imagine what they feel on those days when maybe they didn’t sleep well, or just aren’t in the mood to be around people.
Closing my mouth is fine, and I have discovered the beauty of silence as I’ve aged, but as a parent, I struggle with what I should curb out of their daily diet of daddy’s diatribes. If I think something – I have the desire to share it, if I know something – I want to explain it, and if I have a question – I want to ask it. I must stop taking every opportunity to speak, or risk our daughters will stop listening.
My Papa Sense tells me:
Our kids know and learn through more methods than listening. Perhaps, it’s not what I need to cut out of my verbal communication, but what I need to model and show in different ways. Maybe I have to let them ask the questions before explaining the theory, and have them approach me with an issue before jumping in to be referee.