Friday, 17 August 2012

The big stuff. And knickers. Seriously.

What's your favourite quote or proverb? And why?

Like about a billion other social media addicts in the universe, I stumble across a ton of meaningful quotes and witticisms and whatnot, pretty much every time I log in to Facebook and find myself scanning newsfeed. Drone-like fashion. When I should be doing more important things. *looks shifty-eyed*

But every now and then, a gem pops up.

Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what.
If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big,
because to them all of it has always been big stuff.
 ~ Catherine M. Wallace
It's a quote that really resonated with me. The kind that really makes me stop and think and go "woah. Deep man".

As much as my short attention span allows me, I listen to what the kids have to say, but there are times - many times - when I drift off and start thinking about what we're going to have for dinner. What do we need from the supermarket? How many dots of fly poo are on the ceiling? Am I wearing yesterdays knickers or todays?

And then my brain clicks me back into the present when I see an expectant face waiting for a reply. So I fudge it. "Oh no, that really sucks!" Assuming they just told me something sucky about their day.
"Oh dear... Hate it when that happens." That's often a winner. Again, assuming the story was one of woe. Because often it is. We're all goth at heart in this family.

Yup, try as I might to pay attention, I often completely miss what's been said to me. Or just as bad - I listen, but I brush off the story as inconsequential. 

THE TEEN: "And then so on said blah blah blah to rah rah rah, and oh my god I can't believe she blah blah blah with rah rah and he was my rah rah and now I'm gonna blah de bloody blah blah stab her in the face with a sharpened spoon next time I see her!"

ME: *blinks* "Oh. Yeah. That sucks."

THE TEEN: *frowns*

ME: *gulps* "But ah... Yeah you should just uh.... Yeah. You do what you think is right.... "

THE TEEN: *frown turns to expression of WTF?*

ME: "Because you're good at that... uh... right-thinking stuff...."

THE TEEN: *sighs and doesn't speak to me for the rest of five minutes*
^^ Luckily she has a short-attention span too. ;)

This is not the case all the time. Honestly. I try to listen and take the stories of my offspring seriously. I have learnt from the Teen that it is in my best interest to take heed of every last little detail she shares with me. Even - nay especially - the ones that don't directly concern her at all, but are in fact tales about the friends who I've never even met and who even live on the other side of the planet.

Because, Gods help me if The Teen spends half an hour telling me about her friend Lisa from England who was halfway through training as a mid-wife when she became pregnant and is only 17 and her boyfriend's dumped her and her dad's girlfriend hates her (have I lost you yet?) and I then one day say "wait, who's pregnant?" when she's unfolding a new chapter to the saga. Seven months later. Gods help me if there are sharpened spoons lying around.

And then there are the occasions when I'm so busy nodding and smiling that I unwittingly agree to something I'm fairly certain I would never ever agree to. If I were listening properly in the first place. Damn it.

I'm thankful that for the most part, I only really switch off from the Teen when she's telling me about blah blah blah who said rah rah to ya ya, and I do listen when she's telling me the real big stuff. The break up with her one true love. The bad days when her friends at school treat her like she's invisible to the point where her group forgets her birthday, but brings shared lunches to school for everyone else. The days she can barely drag herself out of bed because she's wading through a fog of teenage angst and I won't dare brush it off as 'just a phase' because I know of how she cuts herself and I'm well aware of her preoccupation with suicide. Often she's trying to pull others out of that frame of mind, but sometimes she's drawn to the idea of it herself.

So yes, listen to the little stuff while they are little, because this is the kind of big stuff you want them to tell you about, when they are big.