Talking About Feelings

March 8th, 2018

What you get when you mix Nonviolent Conflict Talk  with too much Daniel Tiger:

Me: When you hit me, I feel angry.

Eliza: It’s okay to be angry!

My daughters are at the age where I have to be very intentional with how I speak to them. They listen shrewdly, even as they pretend to be deaf. Things resurface much, much later.

Lying in bed, in the dark, Phoebe will prattle on to me forever, and if I’m being perfectly honest, I can’t understand most of what she’s saying. Her vocabulary has accelerated drastically over the last month, but her enunciation has not quite caught up. Every time we read Goodnight Moon, she corrects me and says “That not mush, it guacamole.” But I I’m never quite sure if she’s saying guacamole or macaroni? Anyway.

She’ll be talking, and I’ll be repeating some version of the “Oh. Uh-huh. Yeah?” mantra we all use when we’re either not really listening or have no idea what the other person is saying (also quite handy during conference calls when Google Hangouts is not working well).

Phoebe has called me on it several times lately. “When someone talking, don’t say ‘Yeah, yeah.’” She’s sharp.

Struggling to communicate is harder for them than it is for me, I’m sure, and I marvel at how patient they are about repeating themselves many, many times to try to get me to understand. 

The other night I was about to lose it. Toddler bedtime was complete mayhem and Eliza was playing deaf. When I finally shouted at her to SETTLE DOWN she immediately came over to me, sitting on the floor, and put her tiny little hands on either side of my face, staring into my eyes. 

“Mama. Take a deeeeep breath….”

Beat. Intense eye contact.

“Now. You feel calmer?”

I had to laugh. I sometimes try to get her to calm down before bed by asking her if she wants to take a few deep breaths with me. She never responds or even acknowledges that noise came out of my face. But I guess she has been listening.

She has also been listening to, um, the other stuff. The other day my mom overheard her sweetly calling her baby “f*cking baby.”

“What did you say?” My mom wasn’t sure she heard right.

Phoebe chimed in: “She said ‘f*cking baby.’”

Terrific. Time to get much more mindful about my words.

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One Response to “Talking About Feelings”

  1. Tom M says:

    Fucking brilliant.

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