Please Listen

by Melissa Singh
Jan 4, 2021

I wanted to share a reflection that I had about my elementary-aged girls and the impact of 2020 on them. As the holidays began, I did the normal mum activities of getting the decorations up and juggling between their schoolwork and extracurricular activities. When the school break started, I had ideas of how to adapt the things we used to do with family and in the community. It seemed like I was climbing an uphill battle to get the kids engaged with anything that required thought and work. For example, usually, I would take the girls to Target and with a spending limit they could choose gifts for family and friends. I thought it would be ok for them to look at the Target (or any) website or app. They kept saying it was not the same and that they would do it later. This continued until they did not exchange presents this year. I tried to involve them in sending the holiday cards and offered to send their friends or cousins a card, but they said they would come back later and never did. They said it was not the same as exchanging cards in class. Putting tasks off and giving me excuses really was not like them. I could not figure out why they were just doing their own thing all day long. I began to wonder if they were growing up and finding different priorities or that being home 24/7 made their sister bond stronger so they found ways to play with each other. I ended up concluding that they were tired of listening to me and I was definitely tired of asking, offering, and repeating.

Throughout the holidays we did our best with a few opportunities to support our community through take out and we went to nani’s house, which is a short car ride away. Last week, I had an opportunity to return an item (at Target, ha!) and I kept hearing other moms say to their kids, “You are not listening to me.” I felt as though I was dreaming because I heard the same words that I would say from others. I realized that I was not alone. Some of their children were younger and some seemed to be around the same age. I began to consider why are all of these kids not listening?

I walked to the register and I was glancing at the magazine rack with cover stories which mostly had some type of reflection or review of the year. At that moment, I realized that all the narratives pointed to someone not listening. Whether it was the results of the election, who should vaccinate for COVID19, or get tested for COVID19, to wear a mask or not, how to survive, how to create a new mindset, and on and on. Of course, it is not the fault of a magazine, but these messages are everywhere. On tv, in conversation, and probably influencing their thinking as well. With all of this going on and my kids wondering what’s next? How could I expect them to listen? There is so much to listen to beyond the normal parents, friends, teachers, etc. As adults are formulating opinions and making decisions they probably are too.

What I have learned is to breathe (well at least try to), be patient (as much as I possibly can) and know that my kids are absorbing the chaos of the world even if I am trying to shield them from the brunt of it.