Cool and collected

When do we learn to listen once and then compute?

I told a manager once that I expect to say things once, make sure I was heard the first time, but it’s not in my habit to keep repeating myself. She said I scare her. I did not have kids then…

But it was as a kid that I learned to listen well and take action accordingly. Can you hear any parent say: “I’m not going to say it twice!” and yet we do, hopefully less and less over time.

The decibels were a lot less in the house before our little girl arrived. Her noise making machine, impatience, selective hearing, it all stretches our own limits. We like it or not.

We have called loudly our daughter’s nickname name one-to-many-times, and she said: “Don’t call me Jackie. Don’t call me when you are upset. My name is Jaclyn.”

I see myself as in a mirror, surrounded by people who want what’s best for us, who don’t correct us in the moment, but I know full well when both Conrad and I could have shown a little more grace and extended patience to our daughter. And yet. We course correct slowly, premeditated.

But there is one clear truth: our shortcoming and imperfections are not ruining our child. Much like our parents’ limitations, not only they didn’t mess us up but they actually shaped us and urged us into pleasant maturity: Self-awareness, empathy, patience, self-reliance, discipline.

I have asked jaclyn once, when my calm-kind voice only seemed to push her into disagreeable defiance: “do not misinterpret my patience”, or “The fact that I ask nicely does not make this particular request optional.” The first time I asked that she immediately stopped and complied. But for the most part she is an avid negotiator.