Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Words We Say

This dual life, it goes on.

March has been... a month. Life, death, hope, despair, visits, missing. There have been so many heavy things this month, but these are not our stories to tell.

We are better at supporting people during tough times now. We know that it doesn't matter if someone has it worse, if you have something difficult, scary, or heartbreaking to go through - you deserve support. You deserve an ear, a hug, and validation.

But it is not easy. Showing empathy and truly caring about others takes a lot of emotional and mental energy. Listening to others in their darkest moments is hard, but necessary. Being mindful of our words takes work, but it's worth it. Often our words are the only thing we can offer, the only way to respond. If we had a nickel for each time one of us typed "sending a hug" or some variation... you get it.

It's impossible to say the perfect thing all the time, but that doesn't give us license to stop trying. Words matter.

Now after that seriousness, the duality of our lives steps in. There are few things that can reinforce being careful with what you say like living with a toddler can. While Imogen parrots our words, Everett uses our reasoning and phrasing against us days (or weeks, or months) later.

Every parent must say this, but these kids are smart. Today, Imogen went form "mahhh" to "mango" to "mango, please" to Mommy telling her to eat a piece of broccoli before she can have another mango - promptly eating the broccoli then repeating "mango" while pointing to the mango pieces in a bowl in the middle of the table. She's not even 18 months old yet.

Imogen at the park - March 30, 2019

When Everett had his 18 month appointment, the doctor asked us if he had two dozen words or more. We had to count and thought it was maybe about that. Wah-wah, ball, peez, etc. So let's do that exercise with Imogen. This evening alone we've had mango, swing, chicken, milk, down, monkey ("monk"), plate, shoe, jacket ("jack"), minion, Mama, Dada, Everett ("Eh-beh"), please, sock, night-night, pup, lion, book, turtle, fish, doctor, Dumbo, jump, shirt, pants, horse, sheep, cow, duck, help, and go. She does all kinds of animal noises and names them. She asks for specific songs - including "weiss" for Edelweiss.

If you've ever met Everett (or seen a video), you know he's incredibly verbal. Imogen is ahead of where he was at her age, and we are excited and a little apprehensive to see what will happen next.

Everett repeats what we say, and he does it appropriately. "That's not an option." "I need you to focus on me right now." "You aren't listening to me." "I have another idea, how about..."

"Batman" climbing at the park - March 30, 2019

It's a built in reminder that how we speak to them is how they'll learn to speak to others. We have to be mindful to ask instead of demand, suggest instead of steamroll, and truly offer choices - or better yet open-ended opportunity. We've also found that when we use their language - "can you use your super Everett muscles to help clean up the toys?" - we have better luck. Thank goodness for wikipedia so we can figure out who the villains in PJ Masks are, or what the puppies are named in Paw Patrol.

Playing with Rubble, Rocky, and Zuma - March 22, 2019

We'll be choosing our words carefully, in many places and for many reasons.

Slide! - March 30, 2019

Museum fun - March 16, 2019

Stretching to fit - March 16, 2019

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