Sunday, October 22, 2006

Communication in Families Starts Early

My husband & I were talking last night about those funny things that our parents used to do to us that we swear we won't do to our own kids. No, I'm not talking about how they punished us or how my parents always said "because I'm the mom/dad and I said so" without explaining the reason. Trent & I were discussing lighter things.

I remember hating to have my face washed. It was the typical tug-of-war that many families experience. The funny thing about it is that I hated this because the wash cloths in the kitchen constantly smelled like mildew! Groce! Unfortunately, at the early age of 4, I didn't even know what mildew was, much less could I verbalize this horrendous smell that being slimed onto my face. Finally, after years of stinky torture, I told my mom that the washcloth smelled bad. She sniffed it & I'll never forget her face. We both doubled over in laughter. To this day, I'm compulsive about washing little K's face with a new washcloth, even though it adds to the loads of laundry. It will be one thing my daughter won't be able to blame me for.

My husband tells the tale of his mother always carrying a tissue in her purse for emergencies. Trent says he'd see his mom blow her nose and then carefully tuck the tissue back in her purse. Days later, his mom would try wiping Trent's nose with that same tissue! Blah! Trent would scream, "No way. I saw you blow your nose on that tissue the other day." His mother explained that she had already "cleaned out the tissue" so it was fine. Trent today is scared of the tissue in his mother's purse. Pretty funny, huh?

What does all of this boil down to in my mind? Communication. As parents, we should try to remember that while our kids often seem so exceptional, their little minds aren't always able to keep up with ours. Instead of manhandling my daughter so I can wipe the donut crumbs from her face, maybe I should ask her if she can clean her face. "Yes, Kylie does it," I'll say. When she fights me on getting into the car, I should probably try to figure out WHY she doesn't like the car. (She only has the Elmo video and 50 books to keep her pleased. What else could she need in the car?) By starting to communicate and understand my daughter, I hopefully will be on the road to a more open relationship with her. Every step counts. And when Little K is entering middle school and has tons of questions about her world, I'll be trained to talk with her and listen to what she has on her mind. Little K may be more willing to share her thoughts because she has grown accustomed to sharing with me. Well, I'm hopeful. At least my daughter won't have to smell a dirty wash cloth.

Until the next nap time...