"Baby Yoda is a..."
We received one of the funniest texts from our daughter in a long time: "So, Little Guy may have heard the b-word somewhere. We don't use it, but this morning he said very clearly "baby Yoda is a b*" 😲😮 We can't figure out what other word was used."
Followed up by -- "Just figured it out. "Bridge." Doesn't make sense with Yoda though."
My response: "Of course it makes sense - Baby Yoda is a bridge between the old and the new franchises. Now how Little Guy knows is most definitely Baby Yoda-like! 😄"
The first time you hear your child say a swear word is startling, even if it's not the word he said.
But what is most interesting in this text thread is my daughter's reassurance that they don't use that swear word -- I know they don't swear. At least I thought I knew until this text! My first thought was "what words do they use in front of Little Guy!!"
Of course, my daughter and son are not in the habit of swearing. In fact, they are quite thoughtful about all of their words which is quite a feat even in the best of times!
Being thoughtful about how and what we speak is a good life-habit which is so helpful in these difficult days.
It's easy to become overwhelmed by harsh, unkind words from others -- those online and even in the check-out line. When someone goes off on a rant filled with lots of swearing it is most definitely not a me-problem, but that doesn't prevent my feelings from being hurt or my own anger rising in response. But choosing to respond -- not react -- with respect, thoughtfulness, and kindness is better for my own emotional and mental health. There have been a few times in the past six months when I allowed myself to react -- and wish I had chosen differently each time.
Okay, so we don't habitually swear in our homes or in front of our children. What about the tone of our voices or our attitude when we speak with -- or to -- our loved ones?
Intention & daily practice
I learned a valuable lesson from the Boss when our children were quite young -- how we speak with our kiddos sets a whole tone for our family.
It bothered the Boss when I would call downstairs to get our daughters' attention. He heard me yelling while I thought I was simply speaking loudly for little ears. To the Boss this was disrespectful and harsh. I certainly did not mean it and after some discussion, I decided I would strive to not use my outdoor voice inside.
I also began to observe the Boss's conversation with our young daughters -- he was (is!) amazing. I remember he would stop what he was doing when they wanted to talk, he would ask questions and listen to what was being said. You could tell how much he was engaged by how his whole body seemed to pay attention -- he wasn't trying to multi-task or simply appear to be listening as I so often felt I was doing. And our daughters loved talking with their Dad -- I think this is true to this day.
Now, neither of us were perfect parents. And there were plenty of times when we were not good listeners. We did swear in front of -- never at -- them. We did speak in anger at times -- but, hopefully, apologized whenever it happened.
But our intention and daily practice was to speak calmly and with kindness and to listen with real regard when our daughters spoke.
Bridge to the future
Have you ever watched the Chris Hemsworth 57-second motivational pep talk? If not, take a moment.
Omgosh. So, okay, it's just a well-known film star using his skills convincingly... but did you feel just a tinsey bit like he was speaking to you and he really wanted you to know you are awesome? If I did not have people who love me telling me -- with sincerity -- how wonderful they think I am, I would watch something like this regularly!
We need to be the Chris Hemsworth in our kiddos' lives -- they need to hear us everyday telling them how wonderful they are and that they are capable of tackling that difficult online lesson or they can do a good job with a detested chore or are great at simply being kind to a sibling.
Our children need to know more than ever we believe in them. They know the world is a scary-stressful-place right now and our words and attitude are the bridge -- kind of like Baby Yoda -- to help them cross to the future. Our loving support is their bridge from what used-to-be to what-will-be!
You've got this!