Monday, July 29, 2013

"Too Many Words"

"Too many words, Li'l Empress. Too many words."

It's an oft-repeated phrase here, particularly in the early morning hours before I've had my coffee. Before my eyes are fully opened and certainly before my brain has caught up to the fact that my body is vertical now. Really the only true morning person in our house, even The Boss has been heard shushing her with this quick reminder to go easy on the rest of The Gang.

Most days, she wakes happy and chatty. Very chatty. From the very moment her eyes flutter open. Chattering to herself quietly in her bed. Singing quietly into her pillow before her feet hit the floor. Thankfully, it's mostly all quiet enough not to disturb Mei Mei. Who does NOT wake quite so talkative. Happy, yes. But quiet. Blissfully quiet and snuggly. But once Li'l E comes down those stairs, it just doesn't stop.

We have to tell her, "too many words, Li'l Empress. Too many words."

When I'm well-caffeinated, awake, and it's a decent hour of the day, I can totally relate to my girl's verbosity. I'm known in my family for being the wordy one. I love words. I love learning and using new ones. I love talking with friends, sharing my thoughts, listening to what's going on in their minds, asking questions about their lives. I enjoy sharing a good story. I get really excited about cheering folks on with my words. I like spirited discussions about lots of topics. I am a verbally expressive person. I love using words to tell folks how I feel about them.

(I don't, however, love repeating the same words
over and over to my children. Ad nauseum.
Can I get an "Amen" from the momma crowd?!)

A while ago, The Boss (semi-jokingly, semi-lovingly) told me that my frustration over a particular conversation, in which I was trying to verbally support that person, likely was because I use "way more words than necessary" to get across my point. That it could have (and in his view maybe should have?) been said far more succinctly (my word, not his!). While I don't disagree with him at all, AND while I know he was sincerely trying to help me see another viewpoint in a loving way, it stung a little. Probably because in this instance, I was attempting to offer my words as a sort of gift. I know now that the gift was not so fitting for the recipient. Although I truly didn't know it so definitively previously and that's why I appreciate The Boss's insight. I've been examining my response to the situation and to his observations for a while now.

I do try to make my words count when speaking with people. I try not to vainly flatter or falsely build them up. I desire my words to be an encouragement. That is likely the reason his summary stung a little. Words aren't the "thing" that this recipient responds to, apparently, and thus my words fell flat. I felt like the gift I had offered was politely accepted as if it was a garish purple and orange sparkly scarf given by that crazy old aunt who shops in her ancient closet for birthday presents. My gift was dismissed.

In examining my feelings about the experience, I've been wondering now. Do I do that to the ones I love? Do I take their gifts and dismiss them without realizing the treasure they represent to the one who gave them? The simple offerings that my gang shares with me come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Not always words, but often that is how it starts. My gang members all know their way around the words. To varying degrees, they are all well-spoken, conversational, and sometimes down-right chatty. Do I take what they are offering, in the form in which they are offering it, and see it as the gift they are extending? The invitation into their world they are issuing?

Dandelions from the yard clutched in muddy, grubby fingers.
Stories of junior high drama and angst in uncertain voices.
Slightly strange, sometimes bordering on inappropriate, memes gleaned from friends.
"Knock, knock" jokes that really NO ONE understands.
The 999'th "hold me" with reaching arms and clutching fingers.
The random "Hey Mom, listen to this" kind of songs that I don't quite "get."

Sadly, in this recent examination, I'm discovering that it's an area of parenting that I really need to work on with the Lord's help. I need to be more mindful of what is behind what they are saying. They often are attempting to form connection between us and in response, I must throw open my heart more freely and receive those attempts as such. I'm certain that in receiving more openly what my gang is offering, I am creating more safety and security. I am shaping a foundation of love and confidence. I really need the Lord's help in this - to move from examining it into implementing it.

I do think, though, that it is fair to reserve the right to gently tell her "Too many words, Li'l Empress. Too many words." At O'dark Thirty. When the barrage hits me before my big ole Tigger mug full of sugar-free hazelnut creamer-flavored coffee. Right? Right?


Jan McLeod said...

Love your words (& love of them) and relate so much to this in particular as I have an especially chatty daughter too. I'm often too quick to cut her short or tune her out, especially in trying to be sensitive to others in the room who may not care to hear so much that doesn't pertain to anyone in particular. SO many details. Thank you for sharing your sensitive heart on this matter ... I'm working on the same thing. Glad you were able (despite many distractions) to get this out so beautifully. It was a wonderful reminder for me.

Aus said...

I guess I get what you are saying - maybe - kinda - but I hear that same thing from my bride - with the same loving tone and all of that. But I'm like your mei mei - mornings are the best part of the day!! I hit the ground running pretty much every morning and generally before 0600 (0430 most days - but I sleep in on the weekends to 0530 or 6!) More's the loss for you actually - that morning mug (the first of several however!!) is best spent with the dog on the deck listening to the birds wake up! (But the dog isn't much for conversation...) ;)

going serious again - the maybe hardest thing about parenting is actively listening to your child share a book or whatever story or joke - because what is important to them is easily eclipsed by adult concerns. But the look of sheer joy on their faces when we - as parents - make the conscious choice to really listen - that is where the reward lies!

hugs - aus and co.

S.T.S. said...

This sounds like what we call verbal hemorrhage except Sweet Potato used to repeat the same thing over and over ad nauseum. Now she just goes on and on about how great the latest "fad or celebrity" is. I was never interested in those things it always felt like a time waster. so I'm trying and listening but man is it stretching me to listen and NOT feel like I'm wasting my time.
Little Miss Sunshine is going through a season of "Mom listen to this funny thing!" and she relates something that is only funny if you were there. I'm left scratching my head. But I'm so happy she is confiding in me and if it means I need to endure listening to the "drama" with her, well at least I have my finger on the pulse of her social life. :-)