I love words. I like to write them, speak them, and explore their meanings and uses. When I am sharing a story or joke with my family, they will roll their eyes and groan, “To make a short story long…” My preteen daughter and I love to sit and chat, walk and talk, drive and discuss. My sons, on the other hand, are only interested in their own self-monologues about the latest greatest Lego creation or memorable sports plays.
We have had some issues in our home with obedience lately. My 3 sons seemed to half-heartedly complete their chores. I would then threaten, yell, punish… Repeat cycle. During one of my eloquent expositions on the necessities of a clean room, I realized that my son’s eyes had glazed over. He was looking straight at me, but mentally a million miles away. I tried a different tactic: Placing my hand on his shoulder, I said, “Son, please put your dirty clothes in the hamper and put your toys in your toy box before breakfast.” He quickly replied, “Ok!” And ten minutes later, his room was tidy and sitting at the table for breakfast. I have learned that with my boys, I need to use fewer words combined with clear directions. With my four-year-old, even fewer: “Dirty clothes in laundry room, toys in toy box.” *Kiss*
I need to remember the same approach with my husband. A five minute explanation of why I think the dryer-hose-thingy needs to be cleaned out again will go in one ear and out the other. But a quick “hey, Babe- can you please clean out the dryer-hose-thingy?” (with a wink and a kiss) gets a speedy response. Slightly slower if I don’t give the wink and kiss.
I have also learned to model good listening if I am to expect it in return. When Son #2 begins to explain the mechanics of his Lego creation, I am tempted to nod and ‘mmhmm’ occasionally and go on with whatever I’m doing (or pass out from boredom). Instead I try to look him in the eye, ask engaging questions (What does that cool laser-looking thing do?) and give him my full attention. Which is what I expect him to do when I’m explaining the importance of good dental hygiene and learning to put down the toilet seat (when he would rather pass out from boredom).
So I’ll have to save my wordiness for my daughter, some great girlfriends, and you.