Oct 8, 2012

Listen To Me

Let's just say that we have had a few listening issues going on in this house betwixt the adults and the children.  And let's just say that the adults keep sighing in exasperation because none of their bag of tricks have worked thus far when enticing the young ones to listen.  And let's continue saying that the adults were dangling at the end of their collective rope and were ready to institute the "Yell and Intimidate" routine with the children so at least they would listen out of fear if nothing else.

It's not like our kids are doing the opposite of what we say.  And it's not like they spitefully go out of their way to not listen.  Oh contraire.  Upon meeting any one of my offspring, you may be thinking, "What in the world is that woman complaining about?  Those kids are just great."  But then you wouldn't have had the pleasure of spending 24 hours with them.  All. Alone.

See, our little listening demon comes in the form of "Oh...sorry, Mom, I just forgot."  On everything!  Homework.  Chores.  The last thing I asked them to do.  I just don't buy the "I forgot" excuse for one second.  I do, however, buy the "I'm Tuning You Out" excuse.  On the outside I'm getting, "oh ya, sure  Mom" and "okay, I'll do that" only to appease me.  They know that I, too, have the worst short term memory and they're counting on that to kick in before they go and do the dreaded chore and activity I've asked of them.  But on the inside they're busy thinking of birds, basketballs, books and buddys.

No more.  Chuck and I decided to once and for all time, emphasize the importance of listening.  It came in the form of a little game.  We ditched our "Intimation" tactics and opted for "heaping on the guilt" instead.  Just joking.  No, we opted to teach them a lesson they'll not soon forget.

Chuck and I completely rearranged our family room, moving furniture all about.  We placed random obstacles all around the floor.  We placed props in certain places that they would have to lift or move upon our direction.  We were giddy with excitement.  We told the kids to lock themselves and the dog in a room while we were formulating our genius plan (surprisingly they listened to that directive).

And then we blindfolded them.  We took one kid at a time out of the room.  We gave them three instructions: 1.  You must ONLY listen to MY voice (whichever parent was giving the instruction), 2.  You must keep your hands glued to your side, and 3.  You may not reach your foot out in front of you to feel around, walk as normal.  Then we brought them downstairs into our new domain.

If I was the one giving the directions to the blindfolded child, then Chuck was the one standing uncomfortingly close to them and whispering into their ear the opposite of what I was saying.  He kept contradicting my directions.  It was almost impossible for me not to laugh.  I kept getting ruffled and messed up.  I had to remain focused so I could give the kids sound advice about how to navigate the obstacle course.  I don't know who had to concentrate harder, me or the kids.  You could tell there were a few times when they hesitated, like when Chuck told them to watch out, if they took one more step they'd fall down the stairs and I 'm telling them at the same time to take 4 steps.  Or like the time we told them to pick up the bowl and put it over their head and then dump it over.  It was only filled with cotton balls, but they didn't know that.

After we worked our magic on Chloe, my ever perceptive child said immediately upon removing her blindfold, "I know what you were doing...you were like God, Mom (since I was the one directing her) and Dad was like the devil and I had to work extra hard to only listen to you."  Well...yes, that too dear.  But we were hoping you would see the importance of listening to us even and especially when you're distracted.  Everything we tell you is out of love and for your good.  Sometimes it is extra hard to listen, but when you do, you know it will go well with you.  I think they learned more about listening to God than to us, to be honest.  But apparently, that was the bigger lesson we were supposed to be teaching them.

The kids thanked us over and over the rest of the day for such a fun activity that we reverted to only out of desperation.  Goes to show that when you hit rock bottom, the only way to go from there is up.  I think we're on our way up in the listening department now.

*I'd like to thank the book "Creative Correction" for the inspiration for the obstacle course.

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