What is the last conversation you had with your child? Think. Not just a demand for action or to give direction but a real conversation?
Last week I was in Staples getting cleaning supplies of all things. If you know Staples then you know these items are in the back set of aisles. I was pulled from my deep concentration trying to decide on the best price for paper towels with the following exchange: “Bring your ass up here! You ain’t no damn good!”
I looked around to find the voice. It took me a minute because although it sounded loud enough to be right next to my ear….it was reverberating all the way from the front register. I looked hard and thought…Do I know her? I know she isn’t talking to me! As I scanned the scene I noticed the intended recipient of her tirade. Lil man had climbed up onto the second shelf of the cleaning supplies. So quiet he was that I didn’t even notice him! He was a beautiful boy but his eyes were sad. In the next 5 minutes I watched…mortified…as his mother continued to scream threats and insults at her UNSUPERVISED son as she talked in between her verbal assault on her cell phone….all while standing at the register in front of other customers and the cashier.
I’m not going to lie….I was embarrassed. Hmph, I thought. I hope no one thinks I am with her. Wonder if I clicked my heels two times if I could disappear. After I shook that off I was angry. I helped him down off the shelf and held his hand as I walked him up front. My anger was so great that I know my cheeks were scarlet red and I tried to channel my husband’s sage advice when dealing with strangers…..MIND YOUR BUSINESS NICOLE….I said to myself. I gave my best stank eye as I approached. It was almost comical to see her complete nonchalance as I handed him over to what I thought was a life sentence……of being ignored.
For the record…I get that everyone has a bad day. I myself have a motto when out with my children…Where you show off is where I go off!! So I am not opposed to public discipline.
What has kept me up for the last few nights is the doom I feel for his future. A future of being ignored, screamed at, and the only exchange being had were ones of demands and rebuke.
Here’s what I know:
· Words have power
· Children become exactly what you tell them they are. If you say they “ain’t no good” you can pretty much expect exactly that!
· There are very few BAD children…..there are many more BAD parents.
And in recent studies the word gap between low income children and their middle class peers is staggering. You can read more about it here: http://www.nationaljournal.
com/next-economy/america-360/ low-income-kids-face-a- massive-word-gap-here-s-one- way-to-fix-it-20131217
So I am asking….what is the last conversation you had with your child? Did you cut them off? Take that call? Shush them til the next commercial? It happens so easily in our fast paced lives.
There are so many things that are hard to obtain for our children….words are not on that list. So while my inner voice was screaming, “If he ain’t no damn good he gets it from his Momma!!,” I smiled my best Stepford wife smile and said….”What a beautiful boy you have here. It was great TALKING to him. Almost didn’t hear you calling for him to join you.”
You can imagine the conversation I then had with my sons. Real talk people! Real talk!