Listen and learn


My children tell the best stories. All children, really. Their imaginative, literalist take on our world produces some of the greatest, best-selling quality, oral tales known to momkind.

My children teach me about myself when they tell stories and play at life. I see my methods of discipline when my daughter can’t get the dinosaurs to listen to her. I see my problem-solving strategies when my son can’t get the blocks to stack quite right. I see my humor. I feel my love returned.

I also see the scary, screwed up faces I make when I can’t decide if I should laugh or punish. I hear the phrases I utter, and other words. I hear encouragement passed along. I see hands on hips, feet squared, eyebrows furled, and lip curled.

I listen to my daughter sound out new words, and my son mimic her. I listen to my son talk around a word he doesn’t know to arrive, with the clarity of a 2 1/2-year-old, exactly where he expected to be while I’m still four paragraphs back trying to figure out who in the world he’s been around who has a cat and why that cat can jump out of trees.

There’s been 1 mirror in our fun house and now there’s another reflection that doesn’t belong, yet it’s invaluable to understanding their new everyday.

I don’t ever want to become The Interrogator, even tho it is probably inevitable considering there is no cure for teenager. Not to mention it’s really not a productive use of our time, and we have so very little time together; and it’s listed as a no-no by the all-powerful family court system. Besides, it’s more honest information if it comes organically, inexplicably and without method.

During a Skype with Donkey Tuesday evening, his dog Attila (yes, that is the dog’s actually name) began shaking and then threw up. Donkey tells the kids as this is happening:

Something’s wrong with Attila, Donkey says

What’s wrong, the kids ask

I don’t know, he’s shaking, Donkey replies

Maybe he’s cold, suggest the kids

No, he’s throwing up, Donkey says, I’ll be right back

This isn’t the first time this has happened. This has happened enough that as I sat at the kitchen table, out of sight, I thought, man, that dog pukes a lot. I’m not the only one either. When Donkey returned to the screen:

Is says, Attila gets sick a lot

Donkey agrees, He does seem to get sick a lot

Is observes, We’re not even there to make him throw up

These are the comments that make my ears perk like a pointer’s. Others not so much, like when Is tells me I should say, we can do this the easy way or the hard way like what daddy says, because I say you can put your pants on or I can put your pants on, but you’re wearing pants.

It did bother me last night when Is didn’t want to leave her artwork behind in case someone saw it and said, who put this picture here? We had taken a walk around the block to visit family, and took an offered break from the heat to come inside for ice water and AC. Is wanted to color. We gave her markers and paper. She made a beautiful work of art. She finished and whispered in my ear, you have to take this home so we don’t get in trouble. I told her she wouldn’t get in trouble if she wanted to leave it, and she hung her picture on the fridge, with a dozen other works of art from half a dozen other kids.



  1. Sounds like Atilla is a drama queen like Donkey. Jesus! Kids don’t need prodding to learn how they’re being treated and influenced by others, huh? I listen closely to my son for cues like these. There is a bully we’re dealing with and sounds like Donkey’s a bully your kids need to deal with. 😦

    1. Donkey is a bully. No child should be made to feel they are at fault if a pet vomits. If their actions contributed, then they need to understand how their actions contributed, but not to be made to feel at fault. So sad.
      I secretly fear that by the time I can get the courts to listen and believe me, it will be too late and the kids will already be “ruined.” My daughter will marry a wife beater and my son will be one all because their mother didn’t call the police yet dared to try to protect them. It’s so hard to qualify as a good mom when all it takes to be qualified as a good dad is have a penis.

speak loudly, donkeys are sleeping

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