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“Two-Way Street”

August 20, 2022
Photo courtesy of ARH Inspirations ~ Created with Canva Pro

“Now back to math . . .”

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I love to tell a story about a win, especially when it comes to raising kids. We wait for those wins as parents. We stand on watch for those special days. The days when they get it. The days when you see what you taught them come to life in action. Today I get to tell you a story because today I had a win.

In our house we spend our days trying to be light-hearted about the faults that consume our social interactions. One of them I often joke about is their innate ability to turn the conversation back to whatever they wanted to talk about after what they viewed as a conversational interruption, a.k.a. the other person wanting to speak as if the conversation was some kind of two-person interaction. I lovingly identify this poor behavior with the words, “now back to me” and an accompanying glare. It has been a beat-my-head-on-a-wall parenting moment to try to teach my boys social cues that graciously turn the conversation back to their topic without making the other person feel unheard. Ultimately, I know that this behavior really is just a maturity point in social interactions, but considering the need to maintain good relationships, it is a maturity point my boys really could use. Who are we kidding, it is a maturity we probably all could use.

Today, success rewarded my patience. I listened from the other room as they sat together at the table, the older trying to teach the younger calculus just for fun. (Yes, that is correct, that is what they do for fun—math I have no chance of ever understanding.) I sat on edge as I heard them begin interrupting each other once again, and waited for the standard mom-mimic, “okay, now back to me” to appear. But instead, I heard my older son take a deep breath and say, “that was a really wonderful point of view, now back to math.”

There it was! I heard it with my own two ears! They had completed a kind conversational transition! Or more simply put, they had taken turns with their words.

The irony of the phrase being so close to the original made me bust out in laughter. I could not help but appreciate the tongue in cheek moment that heralded their originality. If you must follow all the challenging social rules, you might as well make it clever. But no matter what the phrase was, that was a win. I’ll take it.

But there was something else tugging at me. My proud mommy heart felt a little nudge of something more. Conviction. I’m not sure if you knew this about me but I am a bit chatty. (Understatement.) In that moment of glory, I also had a moment of humility as a I thought about how many times I had not followed my own lessons.

How many times had I interrupted someone with my next thought or not taken the time to hear their feelings completely? How many times had I rushed to the next thing for the sake of a schedule, not taking the moment to seek out the details I love so much? Worse, how many times had I done that to my kids? My husband? My friends? Or even God?

Too many to count. Now that is some math I understand.

Today I take that mommy win AND take the reminder it brings along. Today I am thrilled they followed through with what I taught them and I am determined to do the same. Today I see a mirror in the reflection of my children. All hail to the lessons of the soncatchers.

Shannon Leach is a slice-of-life encouragement writer and the owner of A Repurposed Heart and ARH Inspirations. Her authentic stories and books about leadership, life, and loving people focus on encouraging others and reminding them they are not alone. Her work can also be found in Guideposts and multiple Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and is the co-founder of the nonprofit The Fostered Gift.
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