They say the biggest revenge on a child is for them to grow up and be a parent and to have a child just like THEM. Well, I was a pretty good kid (if I do say so myself) so I expected to have some great kids (and I think I am pretty blessed because I do…). However, I did have one small problem that followed me through school – and pretty much life. I was a talker. I talked a lot. I talked all the time. One year, the teacher placed a very shy girl beside me in hopes that her quiet, shy ways would help reform me. Unfortunately, much to my teacher’s dismay, I reformed her. She started getting in trouble for talking too! I place the blame fully on my father. He was a talker. I must have been his parent’s revenge. So, suffice it to say, I was not too surprised when this year, like every other year, I had a request to meet the teacher the first week of school, for one of my kids (I won’t mention any names).
She asked me, “Does he ever stop talking”? I decided to not pretend that I didn’t know what she was talking about, and just responded “No”. I didn’t add at that moment though that not only does he not stop talking, but he back talks, challenges absolutely everything you say and asks a million and one questions. She could figure it out for herself. I also knew, like the teachers before her, she would come to realize that this kid had a heart of gold, was passioanate about what he believed in, thrived on fairness and retained a surprisingly large amount of information considering how little he appeared to listen!
I figured I was home free with my other biological offspring. We got through first term this year, then I got “the call”. The teacher told me she was just so amazed at how much this little guy talked! Again, not to mention names…
The teacher decided to put him on a “performance” review program – where every day he would get a happy face or sad face depending on the kind of “non talking” day he had. I think all this does is make him talk about whether he got a happy or sad face! I think he talks so much, he doesn’t even realize he talks, so every day it is a surprise to him whether he gets a happy or sad face! Again, at least he was a loveable guy, and I have to say, the words that come out of this guy’s mouth are some of the funniest I’ve ever heard. To show my love and support for him, I told the teacher that his biggest obstacle right now (his talking) might one day be his biggest asset. I don’t think the teacher cared – she’s not going to be around for that – she just wants him quiet NOW.
It did get me thinking about talking – and silence. “Silence is golden” they say. But is all silence golden? Yes, there are certain times, locations, situations where silence is golden. We need silence. We need to hear ourselves think and feel – and often, we need silence for that. But can silence be bad? We tend to give people an easier time when they are quiet – as often it is easier to deal with. Often – it is better! Silence can represent respect. It can represent “easy going”. It can represent humility. But can silence also represent indifference, passivity, apathy, complacency, pride (“I don’t need to dignify that with a response”)?
I found my quote of the week about this:
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter. In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” – Martin Luther King
I think I’ll quote that the next time I get hauled in to talk about my chatty kids. For now, I’ll focus on teaching my kids about making the important distinction of “good silence” and “bad silence”. Not all silence is created equal. (I also still stick to the idea that my children’s biggest challenges in their young years may become their biggest assets in their older years. I don’t want to completely squash their chatty natures. It did me good ! I built my whole career on communicating!
I’m also going to revel in sweet revenge when my children have children just like them.