Listening to your Children

Sometimes we all need a reality check that we are not as connected to our children as we think we are.

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IMG_2720Last Friday I put on my ski clothes, as I got the boys ready for school, and my adrenaline was pumping in anticipation of letting loose all of my pent up aggression as I skied through the freshly fallen snow.

If you live in a ski resort, you live for snow, lots and lots of snow. When it doesn’t snow and you’re dealt with bitter cold days without mounds of snow to throw your kids into and built forts with, than tempers begin to brew and foam and people find it best to keep to themselves lest the fists start flying.

“Our good Mommy is back,” the boys declared on our way to school as I blared their favorite radio station, 100.5 Radio Free Aspen, a station that plays the same top ten hip hop songs repeatedly to ensure that you learn every word to Akon’s “Sexy Bitch” by heart. Yes, I know, totally inappropriate but we love music and dancing so what are you going to do?

Picking up the girls down the street,  I watched as the little one quietly inserted her thumb into her mouth as her big blue eyes innocently took us all in. Being a fellow thumb sucker, until I was ten, I deeply empathized. I knew that the music was a complete departure to the songs that she was used to listening to on her way to school like, “This land is your land,” and I wondered if it was all too much culture shock for her.

When we arrived at school Axel began to whimper. He had dark rings under his eyes and complained of a tummy ache. I looked into his melt chocolate eyes with long dark lashes and I realized that I could not pump him up on Motrin & Vitamin C and send him on his way, not even with the superb combination of best friends and powder awaiting just fifteen minutes away.

I had to work hard to not show my frustration and resentment that my day had taken a turn but my perceptive little boy knew what was up and I saw him grow sad with the acknowledgment that I was wishing to be elsewhere when all he so desperately needed was my undivided attention.

As the day progressed Axel revealed to me his deepest thoughts and I made a pact to myself to allow these precious moments to happen on a daily basis. I absorbed every detail of his stories, how he got in trouble at school for talking when he was actually defending a student who was being made fun of and how his teacher did not listen to him when he tried to explain and so he just gave up.

We talked about the pain he feels when he hurts himself and he said, “I shake my body until the pain goes away but when somebody hurts my feelings, that is when I cry, even though I don’t want to.” Tears came to my eyes as I listened to my quiet little boy who has learned to keep his thoughts to himself because nobody seems to hear what he has to say.

Axel’s message was clear, I was just as guilty as his teacher’s who fall into the pattern of coexisting without communicating or connecting and I became determined to change that. As my mother always says,  these are the best times of my life and I need to appreciate them while they are here.

The boys are growing up quickly and I need to remain present or I will miss many a precious moment and I thank Axel for this reality check, the mountain can wait.

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9 thoughts on “Listening to your Children”

  1. Well you know how I feel about Axel…he is just one special little boy (as all our children are!)
    You just left tears in my eyes and my heart heavy.
    It is so true, we have to stop and listen to our children or we miss so much of who they really are and how they feel.
    Every night, Tasha and I snuggle into bed and read. I am so exhausted by then that I mumble…not another book! Tasha, of course claims to not be tired and inbetween pages, is a complete chatterbox about her day. I,, of course am dozing off and she catches me….demanding me to recount her story. We always end up in giggles and singing and it is now my favorite part of the day!
    Love you
    Melanie

    Reply
  2. I love, love, love this. Wish I had listened more when the kids were young but its never too late and I still cherish every word that comes out of their teenaged mouths. (OK, ALMOST every word!)

    Reply
  3. Jillian, thank you for this. After I’m done wiping my tears away and swallowing the lump in my throat, I’m going to play with my girls before school – usually our most-stressful, least-connected time together. I hear you.

    Reply

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