If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times.
Am I speaking a foreign language?
Are you deaf?
Do you even hear what I'm saying?
I guarantee if you have kids, you've said one of these phrases at least, oh, a hundred million times. I say them every day. I swear, it's like children's brains are like the Starship Enterprise with this invisible force field around them, keeping out the evil enemy ship Parentspeak at all costs.
But I've recently learned that no force field is impenetrable.
They don't like to let it leak out, those boys, but I see it. The times my younger son and I wait in the car in the parking lot at church because my older son is STILL holding the door for the entire congregation. The sincere "thank you" my little guy gives his grandparents after a great day of fishing on their lake. The extended hand they (sometimes) give to people upon introduction.
OK, so those virtues have been hammered into their heads since they were old enough to walk and talk. But others I wasn't so sure about, until I overheard both of them squabbling over something stupid. About to step in like I usually do, I found myself waiting to see how they would handle things. My oldest finally said to my youngest, "You know, we need to stop causing conflict."
Wow, is there an echo in here???????
Or when my son saved his money for a certain toy, only to discover that the store was out of the item. At first he looked for something else to buy, then said, "You know, Mom, I shouldn't buy something just because I want to spend my money. I should wait for something I really want."
I felt a little lightheaded.
Then there was the talk my oldest and I had last night. He was extremely upset about something, and apparently so desperate to talk about it that he chose me (he usually doesn't) to confide in. I let him talk and was astounded at his perceptions and opinions of the situation he was presenting. They were laced with so many "Mom-isms" that I had tried - and thought I had failed miserably - to teach him during his 13-year life, yet here he was, processing his troubles using the guidance I had given him.
Then I felt this flash of fear and realized, "Wow... if he really is listening, I hope I'm teaching him the right stuff..."
I'm pretty sure I'm on the right track. But honestly, for awhile there, I quit trying. I was convinced that everything I said (except a few choice curse words - they ALWAYS hear those) was falling on deaf ears.
But now I see. It DOES penetrate the force field that is their brain. It DOES sink in. It may not be acknowledged or acted upon right away, but it's stored there, like an inventory of armor when they need it most.
To paraphrase Captain Kirk...
"Children - - - - the Final Frontier.
These are the voyages of my children and me.
Our lifetime mission: to explore strange, new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man or woman has gone before."
Sometimes I hear, "The engines aren't functioning, Jim!" Other times I feel like saying, "Beam me up, Scotty." But at the end of the day, I love my world that is this starship and the crew that are my kids, and I hope to continue to see the fruits of my labor - be they ever so small.