"If I had my life to live over I would have talked less and listened more."
Erma Bombeck was a much loved newspaper columnist when my children were young. Her columns were filled with funny ans witty comments about family life, mixed with wisdom and good common sense. When Erma was diagnosed with a terminal illness, she wrote a list of all the things she would have done differently if she had her life to live over again. From time to time, I am going to share some of the things on her list.
The first quote had a special meaning for me because I spent way too much time talking and telling instead of listening and hearing. When Traci was three she said to me on day, "Mommy, why do I have to put on a coat when YOU are cold and I have to have a nap when YOU are tired?" Such wisdom coming out of the mouth of a tiny girl. I didn't get it then, but now I understand. Now that I have grandchildren, I am trying to atone for my past mistakes by diligently honing my listening skills.
I have started doing a early "interview" with the girls. Each year around he time of their birthdays I tell them, "It's time for our interview" and with clipboard in hand, we lie on the bed wrapped in a cozy blanket I ask the questions and write down the answer exactly as they tell me. I do not embellish or lead. I put a copy of the interviews in their birthday cards for their parents to read. The questions I choose are age appropriate and go something like this:
What do your mom and dad look like?
What is your favorite family thing to do and why?
What advice would you give a friend who is having a problem?
What is the best (or the worst) thing about being 6 (or 7 or 8)?
What do you think is the best age to get married?
Oh my, I have learned some wonderful things in the answers they give me. I have learned that you have to know how to be "loving and responsible" to be a good parent and that Cailin's favorite fashion "look" is "a dress and tights and high heels and hoop earrings." The girls seem to love this interview process and get right into it. I will be starting this with Colbie on her next birthday and I expect to get some very interesting answers... this is the girl who told me "My mom is named Traci and my Dad is named Brad". After a pause she added, "Have you met them?"
So, I have discovered that I am not to old to learn to listen. No one ever learned anything by talking.
Bean There, Done That. It's all Good.