Talking is easy. *yap yap yap, chatter chatter chatter*, non-stop, incoherent, loud, incorrect. No, that’s not the challenge in communication. Listening, responding- that is.
This is the story of how my mother, in all her working woman and home-maker glory managed to keep me , at five months old, entertained while she accomplished (and still accomplishes) the ten thousand errands and tasks that surrounded her.
I have always been told that I was a hyper-active, talkative, easily bored, always restless kid. I was. But when I look back and think of how my parents handled that endless supply of energy, seldom quieting me down, it makes me so grateful!
While she cooked, cleaned and did God knows what other superwoman tasks, Mamma made time to turn the page of the Asterix and Obelix comic for me when I got bored very half hour. I was most fascinated with every new page (she says) sitting and blabbering away to what was (probably) just some really cluttered looking space with colorful images.
This is not something I found out today. It is one of those when-she-was-little stories that I’ve heard from time to time since forever. As I listen to my cousins and friends venting about how their parents have trouble understanding some aspect of their lives, this story tells me it was an important brick in the foundation of my relationship with my parents- they let me talk, even if they didn’t really understand it.
As I got older, learnt the words and continued to express myself, they still let me talk, but now, they also listened. What I liked to study, what I didn’t, what I like to wear, what I didn’t, what I liked to eat, what I didn’t- it all mattered and compromise was made to fit in my wants and needs, to make me happy. My opinions and views mattered, I knew they trusted me with that and I could look to them for support, whenever and for what ever.
I was free to take my own decisions from a young age. That also meant being responsible for their consequences- good, bad or ugly. The fruits or thorns of that, I could discuss with them, I could celebrate with them, could feel sad or terrible about them, and could learn from them.
Isn’t that the crux of the parent-child relationship? Success and failure is supported in equal measure; support is unconditional. I feel grateful and blessed to have had that, to still have that. I know, that no matter what happens, I can go back to my mother. She might be angry or upset, but she will stand by me as I attempt to learn from my mistakes and failure, no matter what.
That is what I wish for every child- to be allowed to express themselves, even if it is incoherent to the outside world; that ability to find themselves knowing that they can depend on that strongest pillar of support in their parents, even though it might take time for them to understand it.
On that note, I am going to re-read these timeless comics and their infinitely entertaining characters!