There is obviously some kind of communicational rift that occurs when words coming from my mouth travel to the eardrums of my children. I would like to just point out a couple of possibilities for this all-too-common event.
1 – My implicit and explicit instructions were drowned out because I book-ended my direction with incoherent mutterings about how the same mess keeps appearing day after day. I might also emit sub-audible mumbling sounds wondering whether or not my kids have broken a limb that I was not aware of. In some cases, I could humbly submit that my enunciation has waned in my later years and therefore my instructions were lost in the vowelular pulsing. In these cases, I could be blamed for the lack of clear communication to my offspring.
2 – Five out of my six children are 11 years old or younger as of this post. This implies that they are not as seasoned to the ways of the world. So I will concede that their ignorance and naivete’ can play into the unfolding of staticked communication. I can, at times, forget that my instructions might require a bit more follow-through and information to help their young minds accomplish the task. Therefore, I again should take on some of the blame for the miscues.
3 – As I have been working to better myself as a man, as a husband, as a father, I have chosen to avoid raising my voice above a soft tone of comfort and welcome for my family and acquaintances. This results in a much softer level of speaking than perhaps my children are used to. I humbly concede that this also results in my instructions not being heard and registered in their soft little ear holes.
It is easy to see how these three items could support the faltering of information that takes place when I try to direct my children with a task. I can do no less than to accept some portion of the blame when this occurs.
Be all this as it may, there remains still a chasm of disconnect that lay between my instructions and the actions of my young.
I could not count myself a real man if I did not lay the heaviest weight at the feet of my oldest. A teenager. A thriving young man who is working his way into his manliness. He is at this point the very culmination of 16 years of teaching, parenting, learning and growing.
He drives a car. He has a job.
He dresses himself. Granted, he dresses himself in the same clothes day in and day out. An A-shirt and flannel pants with “ESPN” printed all over them. Three outfits, people! Work clothes, which are a uniform. Baseball uniform. And his recreational wear, the aforementioned A-shirt and flannel pants with “ESPN” printed all over them.
Understand that this eldest of mine has many great qualities. He does plenty around the house to help out and do his part. But from time to time – no. Let me stop me right there. More accurately, most of the time, this communication gap that I opened with seems to be most prominent with this teenager.
Just in case you are either not a parent or you have been fortunate to bypass this issue with your own children, I now present to you:
A Scenario to Enhance Your Understanding
Me: Son, I need you to please take care of XYZ before you leave for work today.
My son will make eye contact during the entire statement. My son will nod in understanding. My son will respond with:
Son: Yes, sir.
Now maybe this is all just my fault and please read this all the way through before you start sending me letters of direction and links to “How to Parent” books, but I take him at his word that he heard my simple direction. With his words “Yes, sir”, I know that I should be able to walk away without a further thought as to the task that I have just given him. I know he knows what I expect of him.
I go about the rest of my day.
It’s not until he has been gone at work for a good three hours that I get around to stumbling over the XYZ task that I had asked him to take care of before he left for work that day. The XYZ task not being taken care of. The XYZ task is staring me down. Mocking me. Laughing at me. My innards react such that I know that my son is having an Obi Wan moment at work. I can see him stumbling over just a bit and putting his hand on his head.
He has felt a disturbance in the force.
And so his day just became longer because he knows what awaits him when he gets home. I will be waiting for him. And so will XYZ.
How does this pulling back of the curtain of lies reveal the parental truth regarding communication and your kid? What happens in these situations? That’s like asking, “How does a flower grow?” or “Why does the TV show shows?” It just does.
I hate for you to have to discover this from me. Just like when we learn that there is no Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy, we learn to just accept this life truth and we put on our big boy panties and get back to the business of parenting.
And now . . .
A message for you, sire!