My 4 year-old daughter taught me a herculean lesson last week. The three words she spoke have lead me into heavy reflection. I have applied her words-- and thinking to a variety of situations recently. This moment is worth sharing because it’s revealing-- revealing of our children’s perceptions of us.
My middle daughter and I play a pretty common game, a few times per week. I say “what sound does a ___ make?” and she produces the sound. Her monkey impersonation rocks! We have done every animal I can conjure up. And if I can be honest-- I found myself lacking interest this last time. Hopefully, I’m not the only parent who becomes bored with redundant toddler games. In an attempt to shake things up a bit, I threw a curveball. The convo is below:
Me: What sound does a frog make?
Jael: Ribbit ribbit
Me: What sound does a elephant make?
Jael: *sound I can’t spell*
Me: What sound does a daddy make?
Jale: *in the deepest voice she could muster* I Love You!
My heart filled with joy, my mind filled with amazement, my mouth filled with laughter, and my arms filled with Jael. As I kissed her and told her how cute and true it was-- I realized I had just asked her to summarize her dad. The sound “moo” is synonymous with the word “cow”; likewise with “oink-oink”, “quack-quack”, and a wolf’s howl. These “sounds” need no explanation. They have become one with the animal being described-- the animals are summed up by those sounds-- no physical description needed. Of course, this not all that impressive; after all, these animals are limited in their audible communication options .
But my husband has full command of the english language-- and he’s a long winded story teller. 50 years from now, while settled into a noisy rocking chair, he’ll recall his adventures from childhood and beyond-- in a grandiose animated fashion-- for our great grandchildren. But I digress. Considering everything she hears him speak daily, when asked what sound he makes-- she said, “I love you” with zero hesitation. This means one thing; those are the words she hears from her father more than any others.
Have you asked your children what sound you make? Or what you say the most? If you’re children are pre-teens, teens, or simply strong-willed-- you may think you don’t want to know (I have a 13 year old daughter as well). But nothing can be further from the truth. We aren’t required to be perfect parents in order to be good parents. But, we are mandated with the task of never giving up on getting better. Ask them. But, If you vehemently oppose asking right now-- make the necessary changes and ask in two months; I won’t make any suggestions-- I’m sure you know what they need to hear.
I don’t think there are any among us-- in this current generation of parenting adults-- whom doesn’t know how powerful our words are or how crucial word selection is in raising our children. However, that knowledge, in it of itself-- if we’re honest-- doesn’t change lives. But an honest moment with our children will.
Alright I’m done :-)
Published by Kamesha Hayes