One of the things Husband and I have tried to do with our kids is listen. With ears wide open. Frankly some days that was all we had. I think it's the most consistent thing that we have done.
We've listened to their recaps of some inane TV show they shouldn't be watching over dinner. We've heard 17 versions of the same joke from each of them on the same car trip to the mall. We've heard a scene by scene recap of Inspector Gadget 2. Twice. In a row. After bedtime. Every once in a while we'll get a nugget, something we need to pay attention to: "I don't really have any friends."
We figured if our kids felt they were listened to that would give them a sense of self worth. They are important to us and what they say is important. As they grow older, talking to us becomes more and more important as we navigate waters I don't even want to think about. Plus we might learn a thing or two on where their adorable little heads are at.
Today while touring Walmart my ears were particularly keenly tuned to Sydney (the Girlie Goo, previously known as S).
First thing I heard was her taking phone calls from her best friend V. "Well, I'll check my schedule, but I don't think I'm free today". She looks at me, covers her hand-phone and whispers "V wants me to come to a pool party today but I'm busy".
She took another call from V as they tried to sync their schedules and then an email from her brother who is making movies with Lego at a camp this week. Jackson (a.k.a. J Boy) wants to read her a story later after his camp.
Then as we walked we had this conversation:
S: I'm very famous Mommy.
Me: Really?? What are you famous for?
S: I give advice. People write to me and I give advice. They write "Dear Mrs. Sydney".
Me: What kind of advice do you give?
S: Well I just started yesterday at this job, but the first advice I gave was about a girl who's boyfriend wouldn't kiss her and she wants to break up with him if he won't kiss her.
Me: [stifling alarms bells and queasy feeling in stomach] What advice did you give?
S: I told her to ask her boyfriend why he won't kiss her.
Me: Why do you think the boyfriend wasn't kissing her?
S: I think he had a sore lip and it would have hurt to kiss her.
S: The advice I gave today was to a boy who wanted to know why he didn't have a girlfriend.
Me: What did you tell him?
S: I told him he had to be handsome and then the girls would like him.
Me: How would he do that?
S: Do his hair handsome, with gel -- making it stick up. And wear a tie and handsome clothes.
S: I'm also famous because I write Hannah Montana's songs.
Me: You do?
S: Well I give them the ideas for the songs. Another man writes the songs.
Me: You must be very busy.
S: Well I used to do the Hannah Montana songs for a job. When I was a baby. Right after I came out of your tummy and slept in a crib. Now I work for my boss giving advice.
Me: You must be very famous.
S: Yes, people do things for me. They get me drinks, clean my room. But I don't get mad at them if they don't do what I want like some famous people do. If they're sick I can do those things for myself.
Me: Do you think those people would do nice things for me too? Since I'm your Mommy?
S: Of course!
Me: Do you think ...
S: Just a minute Mommy, my boss is calling, I need to take this call.