What I want more than almost anything else is for my daughter to have a voice in this world, to know her thoughts and ideas are valued, and her opinions are worth expressing. She has a great big brain and I never want her to shy away from sharing what’s in there.
I know building that confidence starts now. It’s up to us, as parents, to ensure that she feels secure in articulating what’s on her mind. So I do my best to practice active listening with her. And I get benefits too!
One of my benefits is the special insight into her life – right now two boys in her class have a crush on a friend and her; one boy admitted it, the other boy didn’t say anything and it’s kinda hard to explain, but he just does stuff so she knows he loves them (like he moves his eyebrows when he talks to them); but she doesn’t have a crush back on either of them, no way!
I also get to be entertained by her literal interpretations of events: “Mom, when that guy took Nexium, he got SO strong that he pulled out all the stops! He even pulled out a stoplight from the ground!” (Dear Nexium, if my daughter was on the Olympic committee, athletes would be tested for the strength-enhancing effects of your product, thanks to your latest commercial.)
I do my best to listen to whatever it is she has to say. But sometimes… sometimes my brain is just tired, and my ears are full, and I want her to Just. Stop. Talking. She loves the sound of her own voice and feels compelled to fill any and all silence. Yes, I know you can count to 200… oh, you’re going to show me anyway? (Terrific.) You’re recapping the entire episode of Kickin’ It… that I watched with you? (Seriously?) Oh, you’re singing that entire Taylor Swift song… again… for the seventh time. (Aaaargh!)
Oh, how I struggle! I don’t want to shush her, but sometimes I want her to shush! How do I balance building her confidence with maintaining my sanity? I know that what’s important to a child may sound like noise to an adult, and I don’t want to tune her out. But sometimes I do. I admit it! I don’t listen to everything she has to say no matter what. I just can’t. I’ll lose my mind if I do. But I listen to her as much as humanly possible. I ask her questions and I value her ideas because I know they are going to be so big some day. I just want to make sure I’m not in a straight jacket when that happens.