June 7th, 2011

My 6 yr old cries out, “You aren’t from where I am from”

She is frustrated by my confusion. She has tried explaining something she doesn’t quite have words for yet, and this difference of heritage is the only thing she can grasp at this desperate moment. “You don’t understand because you are Australian and I am from New Zealand”

Oh my little poppet, yes, you were born there and called it home till you were 18 months old. I wish this were the reason I cannot understand your thought process right now. But unfortunately it’s because you are little and I am big. It’s because I am cooking dinner and you are wondering, It’s because I am impatient and you are tired.

Do you always “get” what your kids are saying? Me, I say “uhhu, yeh, okay….” Until I’ve stalled long enough for me to consider all manner of sub contexts, topics, leaps and bounds. Nope, sometimes this pause isn’t enough.

“I’m not sure I know what you’re telling me,” I cautiously offer, dripping in apology. I mean, what horribly disconnected mother doesn’t understand her own child?

Yes, my hand is up. Me. But this communication thing is hard enough when we both know what topic we’re on, but to add a child’s full to the brim mind to the mix, aghhh. And then add another couple of kids all at once…..I start looking for medication!

Consider this chatter in our car after I picked up the kids from school.
9yr old. “I have to do research on some guy”
6yr old  “the back of my mouth hurts”
9yr old “we didn’t get to play outside today because it was too cold”

With me so far? Then……

6yrl old “right back here, can you have a look?”
9yr old “did you?”
“Did I what?” I ask
9yr old “no not you”
6yr old” now?”
9 yr old “now what?”
6yr old “not you”
“What” I ask, again
6 yr old angrily “can you look in my mouth, NOW?!”
9yr old angrily “well did you get to play outside?” he yells at his sister
“No I didn’t,” she yells at him
“No I can’t,” I yell at her.

We haven’t even pulled out of the school property!
-I am now on my way to pick up my next son; soon there will be three conversations to navigate. And I wonder if anyone actually realizes I’m driving.

So maybe if all the planets are in line, calm and tranquility abide, we have eye contact and are born in the same country, perhaps then we may just understand one another.
But till then, maybe we should all just take a breath, be gentle with one another, and hope that we all make it home safely.

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  1. Chris Tartt says:

    Thank you for this.  It is comforting that I’m not alone in the “huh?” while trying to have a conversation with my son! <3

  2. A wonderful observation and reflection, especially the dialog between your kids — most parents can relate to this.

  3. Anne McNelis says:

    Meg, thanks for your reflections on feeling inept as a mother. As a new mother myself to an almost 1 yr. old I’ve had several moments when I feel a bit lost interpreting what she needs or what hurts and have to rely on intuition and rule outs. As I push ahead on this new, amazing and exhausting journey, I look forward to hearing from other mothers’ who, with wit and humility, share their stories so I can relate and know, it’s all so normal.

  4. Andi says:

    Goodness, do I understand the frustration of children all talking at once, all looking for your attention.  I often feel like putting my hands over my ears and singing “LALALA  I can’t hear you!”   I love them, all 3 of them, but my brain feels like it’s on a rollercoaster all the time!

  5. Bernadette says:

    Meg, I am still chuckling! I only had one child so I avoided “she did it-he did it” issues. It wasn’t hard to figure out who did it. I love how you share yourself so honestly and authentically. Brava!

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