Updated: Feb 12, 2021
Conversations with my kids are my favorite. They are real and hilarious and profound and sometimes just plain stupid, but they are all important in their own way. Some of my kids need to talk a little less, some a little more. Some of my kids like to talk about thought provoking things, others like to talk about things that make no sense. Really, no sense at all. While I could do without answering the same question 67864873 times in a row, I love every one of the conversations because with each one I can hear their mind at work.
The other day there was a threat called into my daughter’s school. Her school, and the other schools in the area were placed on a code red and the students were told to hide. The report of danger to the students was assessed by local police and they quickly determined that there was no real threat. The school day continued.
When the kids got home from school we talked about what happened and how they felt while they were hiding. When I asked my kindergartner what happened in school that day he told me that they had to hide in a closet. He said he didn’t care because the lights were on but he did not like to be quiet and still. If you know him at all, you know that quiet and still are not in his wheelhouse, not even in the neighboring wheelhouse.
When Ella got home she had a lot more to say than I think she even knows. She is in middle school and she attends the school where the threat was called in. The students knew, more or less, why they were being asked to hide. The middle school touches the high school where, a few years ago, there was a mass shooting. The trauma that tore through the community still lingers. Ella said that some of the kids were crying and “pretty scared”. This was understandable. She told me that one of the girls in her class grabbed her and held onto her while they were walking to the spot they were told to hide in. She called herself a “human shield.” My mom heart was heavy when she told me this. She continued, “I was nervous and felt my heart beating but I remembered that even though I cannot change what is happening to me I can control how I react. I stayed calm and I think that’s why she was hanging onto me”. For the love, my mom heart was lightened and I was so proud of her.
In hearing her say that she remembered the things I told her when she was in a moment that would have been easy for her to lose the reason in the panic, I was encouraged. I was reminded of how much our words matter.
As parents we get to pour into our kids for only so long before they are on to new adventures, taking the words we have spoken over them with them. As foster parents we have an even smaller window of time. Our words can encourage healing or perpetuate a trauma. Our words are powerful. What we speak into the kids in our home, they put out into the world.
I don’t always get it right. Not even close. I don’t think a parent alive does. But it matters that we try. They hear us. They remember the conversations we have that help them to think critically and creatively (we have some very “creative” thinkers in our home). Sometimes I think I am wasting my breath. Sometimes it feels like they will just only ever think and talk about farts and butts for the rest of their lives. Brace yourself for the next generation guys, they are so classy. Then the sweet reminder in the middle of a scary moment comes that they are storing away the words we speak and pulling them out when they need them the most.
Parents, we can do this. We can talk to our kids while we are running around, driving around, eating dinner, or, let's be real, while we are in the bathroom or trying to shower. We can talk about the important and the boring and the silly and the serious. For every kid, our words matter.
It just might be the words that change their thoughts that change their actions that change the world around them for the better.
Working on my words,