Monday, February 2, 2015

Parenthood – Week 88: One-Way Conversations

One of my favorite moments in the day is sitting in our bedroom and listening to Diana talk to Ollie as she puts him down to bed in his nursery. Usually she recaps the day for him or tells him about exciting things that will happen in the future. Nowadays Ollie comments back to her but that wasn’t always the case.  For most of the first year of his life, Ollie would listen without responding to her soft, loving voice.

This all started with Buffy.

Does having a one-way conversation with a dog feel weird? Yes, at first but it this can be one of the most therapeutic things you can do for yourself. While we ponder and think through challenges in our lives, often it’s verbalizing our thoughts that help us work through and make sense of what we are thinking. While you can do this alone, it’s feels better having this conversation with someone close to you like your dog.

I remember feeling strange that first week that we had Buffy trying to communicate to her. I would talk to her and try to explain things to her without getting any response back, verbal or otherwise. Diana encouraged me to keep talking to her and I started telling her things about what was going on in her life, and later what was going on in my life. As Buffy got older, she really showed that she understood what we were talking about. She may not always comprehend actually words and sentences but she gets the emotion of what we are saying.

The same experience happened with Ollie. It was months before he smiled at us, let alone give us any kind of verbal response.  And just like with Buffy, this didn’t stop us from talking to our little guy. We knew that if was essential for his language and emotionally development to hear us talk to him and so we did. It was also important for us so to have these talks so that we would feel closer to him through these one-way conversations.

With Ollie and Buffy, there are times when it’s silent and I don’t feel like saying anything to them. Sometimes I enjoy this silence but other times I push through this feeling and start talking to my kids. Every time I do this, I feel closer to my them. Even though neither of them really talk back like an adult, there’s a look in their eyes that shows me that they are listening and that they care.

Embrace the awkwardness and talk to your kids and your dog. It doesn’t have to be anything deep or meaningful, but figure out something to share with them through your voice. The amazing thing is that for a lot of the time you will get no response, but every once in a while you do and that’s a truly special moment.

Talk to your kids and your pets. They need this as much as you do.

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