It’s In the Gaps

Declan dogs

Like the rest of America, I love the stuffing out of Amy Schumer and, thus, was not surprised that I loved the masterpiece that was Trainwreck. When a movie is that funny yet also strikes such a chord with audiences everywhere, it’s truly magical. I cried quite a bit in that movie, which is no big shocker to anyone who knows me, but one of the tear-inducing scenes might be a bit of a surprise. I cried during one of the final scenes when she finally connects with her nephew over Minecraft (Mind Crack to us mothers). Not only was this scene touching, but it meant a lot to me on a personal level. My son is often trying to get my attention with this game, always wanting to show me the latest thing that he built. I hem and haw and even sigh, as I’m always busy. So, so busy. Sometimes I do sit down next to him and look but, more often than not, I tell him, “Not now, Honey. Mommy’s busy.” I’ve realized more and more how valuable it is to not just hear my boys but to listen. Even better, I’m trying to actually pay attention and, as it turns out, this sh*t is free, folks. Everyone’s likely seen that article that went viral about questions to ask your child after school other than the obvious, “How was school?” While I loved it as much as the next parent, I think there are so many other ways to learn about our kids.

It’s in their pictures…

There’s a reason therapists use Art Therapy with kids very often. Do you see yourself in their photos? If so, how do they depict you? Is Dad there? If not, why? Did he/she put something in there that seems odd? Even if everything seems totally normal, ask him/her questions. Why is the sun pink? Why does Mommy have a big head (LOL)? Why is your brother tied to a railroad track? You might have a good laugh but, even better, you might learn something about your child’s mind that will blow your own.

It’s in the repetition…

Is your child talking about something over and over? Does he/she repeatedly mention a certain person or incident? This is important, people. My own son did this last year and my husband and I ignored it, as it seemed a silly “incident” on a school playground that warranted nothing more than a “Huh, that’s weird” from both of us. Unfortunately, this incident was a big thing to my son. HUGE. He began to cry before school every day. I finally heard him. I finally listened. I finally Paid Attention. I did something about it, and the whole situation improved within days. It may seem small to you but it could be ENORMOUS to him/her. I say this to myself as much to you–put down the damn phone and listen. REALLY LISTEN.

It’s coming from the back seat…

If you read Mary Tyler Mom‘s blog, you’ve likely heard her mention conversations that arise from the back seat of her car. MTM’s little girl, Donna, died of cancer at age four. This was a staggering loss for her whole family, and even her young son. He often asks about Donna from the back seat. There’s something about sitting back there that is freeing to kids. They don’t have to look you in the eye, and they can ask things they might otherwise feel scared to ask. My youngest mentioned something from the back seat about our family that stabbed me right in the heart, as it wasn’t flattering. But it was true. And it was profound. And I took the time to answer his questions about it, and made sure to bring it up again later. Turn down the music, folks, as this is the STUFF.

It’s in the gaps…

So often, we want to fill the silence, right? Silence is just so damn awkward. We fill it with ums, ahhhs, uhhhs, and other general nonsense just to avoid that feeling of being uncomfortable. Don’t do it! Allow the silence. There is a reason that therapists use it so often in therapy. Sometimes you don’t have to ask questions. Just sit there. Let your child know you’re there. You’re available. You’re hearing. You’re listening. YOU’RE PAYING ATTENTION. What happens next will surely delight you.

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  1. shannon5757 says:

    I cannot like this entry enough. Kudos, Marn.

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