Lucy gave me a really good parenting tip a few weeks ago without even meaning to.
I was sending little Valentine’s packages to all the big kids, and she didn’t get a chance to write her notes to her siblings before she left for school the day I wanted to mail them. She was mortified that I would send those packages without her special thoughts added (she sure loves those big siblings!)
So she texted me the sweetest notes to print off and put in those packages.
They were filled with sweetness, but what stuck out to me was part of what she wrote in Claire’s note:
“You always know what I’m talking about when I say a hard time and you never try to fix it: you just understand.“
And it’s true. Claire is so good at that.
She has been from the start.
Of course it made me think about how I fare with that skill. And it’s not too well!
I am quick to try to fix situations, offer solutions, the “buck up little girl, you’ve got this!” attitude.
And while that is great for some occasions, I was reminded with that one little line from Lucy, that sometimes kids don’t want you to solve their problems at all.
Sometimes kids just want a listening ear.
To be heard.
To be understood.
To know that their feelings are valid.
A week or so later Lucy and I were in my bathroom getting her hair done and she started bemoaning some frustrating things about one of her classes. Some things she wished were different.
Of course, my first instinct was to jump right on in with solutions.
“Why don’t you tell your teacher such-and-such”
And “Well, this may be because of yada-yada.”
Oh I knew how to fix that thing!
But in an instant I stopped myself and remembered that note, Lucy’s words to Claire echoing in my heart: “when I say a hard time and you never try to fix it: you just understand.” and it stopped me in my tracks.
I sat down with Lucy, looked her in the eye and asked if this was a time she wanted help with solutions or for me just to listen.
And with tears brimming over she told me she needed the latter: a listening ear.
She just wanted to feel heard.
So we sat and hugged and her body melted into mine.
“I’m sorry, that’s got to be so hard.” I told her, trying to remember all the tips and tricks from How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, and Listen so Kids will Talk. (one of my favorite parenting books).
Within minutes her countenance changed. She emerged the “girl who was heard,” and was able to carry on with her day with a little more spring in her step.
Sometimes kids are the best teachers.
We just need to listen.