Sunday, February 13, 2011

One of my Homework Assignments for This Week...

I had an interesting assignment for my current class:  do not communicate (verbally, nonverbally, etc.) with ANYONE for an hour.  We then needed to post our story.  My story received so many comments from my classmates, that I wanted to share. 

I’ll give a little background on my situation.  I’m a stay at home mom. In the mornings I get the two big kids dressed and off to school.  The baby and I spend most days at home together.  Because I had no plans (PTA meetings, etc.) this week, I was a little challenged to find the right time to complete this assignment.  Not communicating with the baby for an hour would be easy enough.  She probably wouldn’t be too upset.  I needed a challenge.  As if someone heard me pondering this last night, I woke up to another snow day for the big kids.  Voila!  Three kids home all day long.  This was the day to complete the “no communication challenge!”
I waited until my daughter’s friend came over for a play date and then began.  One hour of not communicating.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Within 30 seconds, my cell phone beeped with an incoming text message.  I instantly grabbed it, viewed the message and replied.  Oops!  No texting, no facebook, no Twitter or blog, too, those are all major ways I communicate with others.  I rely heavily on my smart phone, because of family and friends living and working across country. At first not being able to text or facebook made me nervous.  I’m a big “stimmer”. 

A few minutes later, the baby began to fuss.  Thinking it was a wet diaper, I grabbed a dry one, and went to her.  I typically talk to her during her diaper changes.  It was very hard not to say, “Oh sweetie, you’re wet!  I’ll change you…”  To complicated matters, I opened the diaper to realize that I  needed wipes, quickly!  I wasn’t able to holler out to one of the big kids, “GET WIPES!  HURRY!” This solidified the notion that no communicating was going to be a lot harder than I anticipated.

The baby didn’t seem to miss me not talking during this event.  She played with her toys and smiled up at me.  After I finished the diaper and put her to play, I heard my middle child call out one of our family famous lines, “Mom, where’s my…”  Unable to answer, I ignored her.  “MOM!”  I remained silent, easier to do since I was upstairs, and she down.  Until I hear the padding on the stairs and look up to a 9 year old in my face, “Mom, I asked where my game is.  You didn’t answer, so I texted Daddy, he said….”  I looked the other way.  Her friend chimed in, “Um, Quinn, you’re mom is ignoring me.  It’s something parents do.” 

Here’s where I started to feel happy that I was doing this assignment.  I’m so used to jumping in to communicate with the children in order to aide them in times of need.  Though that has gotten me to have very dependent children.  Without my aide, daughter was able to go back down stairs and use her own skills to find her own game.  Maybe this no talking thing should happen regularly? 

I busied myself by tidying up and vacuuming.  The baby played happily with her toys within sight.  As I was dusting, I accidentally turned off my oldest child’s video game.  I instantly realized my terrible mistake.  But I was unable to communicate with him that I was sorry.  That I didn’t mean to.  He began to cry, was visibly upset that I had ended his game, “right in the middle of a big important move!”  My mother instincts really wanted to run over, hug him and say, “I am SO SORRY!”  But I couldn’t.  And so, he cried for a minute, then turned it back on.  No fuss, no mess, no tantrum.  Again, I felt successful.

As we neared the end of the hour, it started to seem like the baby wasn’t happy she was getting nothing from me.  She began to fuss.  I went to her to pick her up.  I still didn’t talk to her, though.  She grabbed my face with her fingers.  She flailed at me.  She clearly wanted to hear me, for me to verbally interact with me.  Thankfully the hour finished and I was able to fill that need of hers.  The instant I opened up my mouth to say, “Time’s up!” a huge smile spread across her sweet little face. 

I didn’t tell the older children the reason for my silence.  I figured I might use this tactic again.  I quite like the way they responded to my lack of a response.  I realized from this exercise a few things:

 I am dependent on communicating with the outside world using my Smart Phone.  I text, Twitter, Facebook a lot within an hour.  I did miss this activity.  Some days this is the only connection I have to the outside world.   I went to my phone and found a text that said, “Where’ve you BEEN!” in the inbox.  Funny, considering I’d only been “gone” an hour.

I talk to my kids, a lot.  I am very verbal.  I really enjoy communicating with the baby all day long, especially during diaper changes and other routine activities.  I missed this.  More importantly, she missed this.