Do you have any talkers in your family? I do. His name is Aidan, he’s three years old, and he talks. non. stop.
It used to drive me a little bonkers (although, as a talker myself, I really can’t be too annoyed), and I had a tendency to tune him out when I got tired.
But one day one of our exchanges took a different turn. He made one little statement I will never forget that changed my mothering forever.
The boys and I had gone to church and were on our way home. Aidan was chattering endlessly (as he tends to do) about something I did not care the slightest about. And he was saying the same thing, and asking the same questions, over and over. It was 9:00 at night, and my patience was wearing thin. My responses were getting less enthusiastic by the minute.
I was short and snappy. I responded with a lot of “I don’t know, Aidan,” the frustration and annoyance apparent in my tone.
After several minutes, the chatter suddenly ceased. The silence in the backseat, welcome at first, became unsettling. Guilt overtook me.
“Aidan, what did you do in Puggles [his AWANA class] tonight?” I tried to start a new conversation.
I looked in the rearview mirror to see if he had fallen asleep. He was still awake, staring out the window.
“Aidan, I asked you how your class was.”
Then . . .
“Mommy, I not talk about Puggles. I was talking about Daddy’s truck and you got angry. I’m not talking about Puggles. You lost your chance.”
My first reaction was to burst out laughing. “You lost your chance” is a phrase I have said many, many times to him, and it made me laugh to hear it repeated back to me in this scenario.
My second reaction was to apologize. I hadn’t been very kind, and I needed to apologize for that.
But the next morning, as I thought about our conversation, I realized there was a lot of truth, and a big parenting lesson, there.
“You lost your chance.”
Aidan’s topic of conversation may not have been of any interest to me (certainly not after hearing the same question a dozen times), but it was important to him. And if I don’t show interest in what’s important to him now, he won’t show interest in what’s important to me later.
This came on the heels of a conversation with a good friend who expressed frustration and sadness that his teenage son rarely wanted to talk or share with him. It made me realize I should be grateful for these days when Aidan wants to share evvverrrything with me, because there may come a day when I long for him to talk to me at all.
I know there are no guarantees for the future of our relationship. He may still become a closed-off teenager regardless of what I do. But I want to do everything I can now to prevent that from happening.
Years down the road, I don’t want to hear the echoes of an unspoken, “You lost your chance.”