So, I have a confession.
I am an overtalker.
When I get angry at my two sons, I don’t just lecture them. I filibuster. I make my point, then make it again. And oh, have you heard me make my point in this other creative manner? No? Well. Here I go then. Several minutes in, I can actually see them mute-button me with their eyes. But that doesn’t stop me, Filibustering McGee. I will shout until my words solidify like cement in their brains, my sage advice ringing in their ears for all eternity, forever protecting them against future poor decisions involving crystal meth.
I think my most often used rant is: “Why Can’t You Kids Get It Together In The Morning?” It can last the whole 20 minute ride to school if I am really fired up.
The truth of the matter is, if my rants were working, my kids would be, you know, getting it together in the morning.
You know what? I am overtalking right now, as I am writing this post. My youngest, 7-year-old Ezra, is throwing a painful fit about not wanting to write thank you notes for his birthday presents. He is howling like a feral creature and and the sound is turning me inside out.
So I say: "You’re not getting up out of that chair until you are done," some stuff about being grateful, and "I’ll just take your birthday presents and return them to your friends and that means your drum set, too," and "You are making terrible choices and you could have been done already" and "Why can’t you just cooperate, and this could have all gone differently if you had just listened to me the first time."
It would end better if I stopped overtalking, told him to write the notes, ignored his tantrum and quietly got back into my blog post.
Sometimes I can. On days when it’s early enough and I have about a half a tank of patience left, I can stop myself. I can say one sentence like, “Clean your room, and if you don’t there will be no TV.” Then I walk away. I hear some crying, some fuss, but whatever I ask gets done. It happens faster and without drama, pain or post-argument mommy guilt. I feel pretty good on those days.
And then other days … sigh.
The other night I overheard my husband ending an argument with our older son, Maxon, who is 9. The fight had been going on a while, ignited when Maxon started having trouble with his homework. Michael had made his point, and he was making it again three different ways. I heard myself in his voice, the way I draw out vital words, repeat significant sentences. The way I am so certain that what I say will make a difference in the way our sons choose to live.
Holy Moses, not only am I an overtalker, I married one, too.
Then I tried to hear Michael's words through Maxon’s ears. It was past 9:30. He probably just wanted to be forgiven and put his keppie on his Polar Pillow. I remember being over-lectured when I was young and just wanting it to end! Oh good. Something else I swore I'd never do as a parent that I can't help myself from doing. That list just keeps getting longer.
Perhaps I am being too hard on myself. They are just words, after all. Maybe the more words I use, the better chance I have of some of them sinking in.
Eventually, I walked downstairs to see my husband and son in a post-argument embrace. On the sofa later that evening, my husband told me he felt like it was an important talk, like they had a breakthrough.
I hope they did have a breakthrough. I hope that our words do make a difference, no matter how many or how few we use.