This week’s topic is a little light, but no less important. I have this habit (not just with kids) of making up words or phrases that flow with some words or collection of syllables that I hear, but don’t understand, and inserting them as feedback (I know, run-on). And, when the house is teaming with very verbal, articulate toddlers, there are many opportunities to do this. Seriously, these guys were constantly being complimented for their verbal skills and vocabulary. Of course, if you’re the one having to listen to the constant yammering…ugh!
Kidding aside, it is fun to engage articulate kids. They have so much to say! No, really…so much. They. Won’t. Stop. For someone that struggles with attention and focus, it’s easy to get overwhelmed in the sheer volume of conversation and start shutting down, mentally and emotionally, if I’m not careful. I suppose it’s also easy to block it all out if you don’t already struggle with attention issues. Another issue is that they can get frustrated if they don’t know the word that means what they are trying to say, or are confused about what they think they mean. We’ve spent a lot of time in these kinds of conversations.
One such night, I heard a phrase that I didn’t, and still don’t, know what was trying to be said. I could tell this little guy was a little excited and a little agitated (a mixture of emotions common in kids, in general). My hip feedback response was “Pop a goat, sucka?” Based on the syllable sounds I had to work with, that’s what I came up with. We laughed! Oh, did we laugh. That was probably one of the funniest nights at the dinner table, ever. It could only be rivaled by the night that my hip feedback response was “Pickled underwear?” Hilarious, but I didn’t think “Pickled underwear” would be as appropriate of a blog title.
Both of those phrases became instant catch phrases in our home. We still use them, from time to time. “Pickled underwear” was wildly popular during potty training, if you can imagine that! And, I’ve often been asked what “Pop a goat!” or “Pickled underwear.” mean by caretakers and other adults. Equal parts funny and awkward.
Comical story. But, the lesson I learned was that I can redirect frustration with this banter. However, I can also earn his trust. Now he knows he can engage me in conversation, and I’m going to pay attention, and give him feedback. I’m not going to brush him off in a frustrated state. I mean, isn’t that what’s important to us all in our relationship interactions? And, isn’t trust what we seek as parents, ultimately? We want those little guys to trust us to make decisions that affect their lives. There are many roads there, but that’s where we want to be. And it doesn’t have to be like this particularly, but engage them.
And to be honest, we need that, as parents, also. If we aren’t building trust, and working on our relationships with these kids, we aren’t doing them any favors. And they are going to struggle to thrive.