Sunday, November 1, 2015

"You Can Stop Talking Now"

I tend to have only two settings when it comes to talking: One click above silence, and verbal diarrhea. It's often very hard for me to start talking, but once I do, the floodgates open. Especially if it's something I feel passionate about or something I feel like I know a lot about. So anyone who asks me a question is likely to get either a shrug and a murmur, or a 15-minute discourse.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. I do generally know enough to gauge my audience, and to try to get out more than a murmur when an actual answer is required. And most of the time I'm socially aware enough to shut up when my companions' eyes begin to glaze over.

But not with my kids.

For some reason, when my audience is my kids, I feel the need to repeat and rephrase things endlessly until I'm absolutely certain I've answered their question in every possible way, so that I can guarantee that they understand completely what I've been trying to tell them. But every now and then, they remind me that answers like that are not only unnecessary, they're often unwelcome.

This evening, for instance, my extremely bright 6-year-old (as of tomorrow) asked me, "Mom, why is there both a 'Disney' and a 'Disney/Pixar'?" Figuring this was a good opportunity to teach him a bit about how corporations work, I explained that Pixar was a company that made animated movies, but they started off as a tiny little studio that didn't have a lot of money or resources, but they did really cool stuff. So the big Disney company decided to buy them and use their huge amount of money and resources to help them do lots more big stuff (I left off the part about "and also make Disney lots more big profits"). Then I explained that Disney was like a really big circle, and inside that circle were a whole bunch of smaller circles, like Pixar, and Disney cruise lines, and Radio Disney, and Disney Junior TV. At that point, he interrupted me with a rather pained expression: "Mom! Mom! Little too much conversation! You can stop talking now."


And yet, good for him. He wasn't rude, he wasn't mean. He just let me know, in no uncertain terms, that I was overdoing it. And I need that little check every now and then. I tend to jump into parenting with a little too much enthusiasm sometimes, and I need a reminder that some things are better in smaller doses. Cake, for instance, is more enjoyable when you eat just one piece and save the rest for later instead of trying to stuff a whole entire cake down your gullet in one sitting. Dancing wildly is fun for a few minutes, but then you need to take a break and catch your breath. Putting on all your favorite clothes all at once is neither as comfortable nor as attractive as choosing a select few at a time. Watching an entire season of a TV series in one huge binge session can be fun in some ways, but you miss out on the savoring and speculating and mental analysis that comes with weeks between episodes. And information, going into small ears and small brains (sponges though they may be), is often best absorbed in small doses. In fact, the comparison to binge-watching an entire season of a TV series might be the best analogy. Children need to take in small amounts of information, and then take time to work those bits into everything else they know about the world. They need time to wrap their brains around all the implications of that new bit of knowledge. They need to let that new knowledge settle into their minds and finds its own place before they add more to it.

And I appreciate it when my kids are not afraid to remind me of that.

And that's all I needed to say, so I can stop talking now.

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