Kids are ornery little stealthy ninjas! When you call them to take out the trash or put their shoes away or clean off their place at the table they SWEAR they can’t hear you. You have to either raise your voice to deadly levels or get up in their line of view while they look at you with that deer in headlights expression on their little faces! That’s the ornery part.
But OH Brother! When you are whispering in your quietest voice, while they are watching tv, playing with Legos, AND crunching on Cheetos they will pick up every little syllable and detail of your conversation! Remember how your grandmother could hear you when you mumbled ungodly things under your breath and her bionic ears would stupefy you? Same thing only with younger ears! That’s the stealthy ninja part.
Kids be listening (excuse my grammar)….especially close to ‘grown people’s’ business….especially when it’s sorta-kinda relates to them!
I took this little nugget of information for granted when my son was younger. I would go on and on and on about how stupid his daddy was, and how mean he was, and how crazy he was. And while I wasn’t talking TO Jai, I was talking within the 50 mile radius of his little bionic ears.
And you would THINK, that because they are so young they aren’t putting two and two together but the other little nugget of information that I took for granted was the fact that kids be knowing! Don’t they? Can’t add or spell and can barely say “Daddy” but they SHOLE understand the complexities of your relationship with their father.
I finally got slapped in the face with all of this when I was doing my friend’s hair while Jai was sitting next to me on the couch. Of course, I was venting to my friend about the most recent episode of Baby Mamas of Columbia featuring LaNee`and Canaan. Out of no where Jai blurts out a most toxic combination of three little words: “Mommy hates Daddy.”
I was shocked, embarrassed, ashamed, and buried under a mountain of conviction—not because Jai “made me look bad” in front of my friend but because I knew exactly why and how he came to that conclusion. In fact, it was dead on accurate. Hate is a heavy load and I was SO sorry to have my two year old carrying any portion of that burden.
After that I made a concerted effort to watch what I said and since I didn’t have anything nice to say I didn’t say anything at all (to the best of my ability.) I would slip up here and there, but mostly I just didn’t say a THING in front of Jai or to Jai about his Daddy. It was like Canaan became a figment of my conversational imagination where Jai was concerned. You think that fixed it?
Not at all. NOT. AT. ALL!
Jai LOVES his Daddy. Of course he wanted to talk about him with the other person in his life who he also LOVES! Could you imagine if every time you went to talk to your mother about something or someone you ABSOLUTELY love and she wouldn’t acknowledge it or affirm your affections for it to her full capacity?! You would be devastated at worst and offended at best…or at least I would be.
Now, I wasn’t extreme about it on some Harry Potter-He-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless type stuff but I certainly did not affirm his connection and affections towards his father at a level that matched his enthusiasm for the subject. And even though he never explicitly said anything, it wasn’t long before I realized this wasn’t working for my Wonder Jai.
I had to FIND something good to say. On purpose.
I started with one good thing that I could say. It was all I had for a very long time. “Your Daddy loves you so much!” Jai would say something and ALL I would say is “Really?! Your Daddy loves you so much!” It was a little awkward but it was a start! And it was all that I could HONESTLY say.
Eventually, my list of go-to phrases grew as I’ve learned how to move out of the way enough to see Canaan operate in all the potential of his father-hood-ship-ness. (I couldn’t figure out which suffix was most appropriate so, please, take your pick!)
Here are those 10 Things:
- Your Daddy loves you so much!
- Your Daddy is very excited to see you!
- Your Daddy misses you so much!
- Did you talk to your Dad about it?
- Did you ask your Daddy? (This is really for me! When I don’t want to do something I throw it off on Canaan! Don’ t judge me!)
- I’m going to tell your Daddy! (This is a threat.)
- It’s ok to tell me you miss your Daddy but you can NOT say that when you’re mad at me. (You know kids do this mess. I had to set some ground rules to keep my son from abusing it.)
- Your Daddy is going to be so proud of you!
- You are your Daddy’s favorite son! (He’s his Daddy’s only son so this not an attempt to create dissension between siblings.)
- We play a game called “Who loves you?” Canaan is always one of the top 3 on the list…somewhere near Jesus and of course me!
I don’t know your situation. And unfortunately, I’m sure many of you can’t say THESE specific ten things. However, I encourage you to find SOMETHING good to say about it…on purpose. It may not be easy for you. It certainly wasn’t easy for me but here’s what I know for sure:
(1) Mind your mouth. Words have power to tear down and build up both walls and bridges.
(2) Your kids are listening to the things you ARE saying and to things you ARE NOT saying. Just because you are NOT contributing negativity doesn’t at all mean you ARE contributing positivity.
(3) Kids LOVE (or at least want) their Daddies. And no matter how much their father isn’t around, they are still very aware of their connection to him. So when you say negative things about him, it attacks the integrity of their little self-image.
(4) Our children look to us to give them a perspective on the situation. And whether or not we make a conscious effort to do so, we either give them something healthy or something toxic to make sense of their little worlds.
Stay Wonderful! 🙂