I was talking to my 4-year-old the other day. When I say “the other day”, I am of course referring to when she started her latest story. It has been going on for a while. I am hoping it will end shortly, but that probably won’t happen anytime soon. She, like many kids her age, is quite long-winded and loves to share stories of her day and her great ideas.
It isn’t that I don’t care what she has to say, I just wish she said it faster. Because if this particular story doesn’t end soon, I might end up having to explain to my wife where I have been for the last few days. To put it simply my daughter can talk, and she has a lot to say.
When she started talking
I was eagerly looking forward to that day when they would finally utter their first words. Talking is a huge accomplishment. It is a pretty essential skill. They would be able to ask for what they wanted. They could tell me if something was wrong.
Would they stick with the classics and go with momma or dada? My wife was definitely hoping for mama, but I didn’t care. I’ll be honest, their first word could have been “Flibbertigibbet”. It wouldn’t matter I would be exciting because it signaled an end to the crying that so far has been their primary form of communication. It would be awesome. It turns out, I was wrong.
Now that my daughter has started talking she never stops. She isn’t asking endless questions like some kids. Honestly, that would be preferable. I love it when she asks questions. It means she is eager to learn. As an added bonus, when I answer the question I get to look smart. Something that doesn’t happen all that often.
My daughter preferers to tell me things. Literally. I will hear “Daddy, let me tell you something…” and I know to clear my schedule because this is going to take a while. She never shares a short anecdote. Overstuffed with nonessential details jumping from topic to topic, the story will be long and winding. Yet somehow, despite all the details she includes it is lacking in the details needed to actually know what the hell she is talking about.
But, I listen
I know she will have important things to say later. She will have problems and insecurities and I want her to be comfortable talking to me about them. Which is why I listen. I know that for there to be any possibility of her talking to me later, I have to listen to her now.
So I listen. I sit there nodding, trying to decipher the clues. Striving to both understand and not let my absolute confusion show. I wait knowing the investment of my time now will pay off later. I may roll my eyes when I hear her say “I need to tell you something”, but one day when I hear it will be important and I am going to be happy she is coming to me with whatever is bothering her. My only hope is that her current monolog is over by then.