Monday, March 7, 2016

Parenthood: Week 142 - Center Of The Conversation

Sitting at the dinner table the other night, Diana and I were deep into a discussion about learning differences with our students and how to best address them. Ollie said, “daddy, stop talk!” and after we both paused, Ollie begun telling us about his day. He explained how someone had a potty accident during snack time at his school. Ollie was really proud to share this story with us and he repeated the story when he saw that he we were receptive asking follow-up questions.

First off, let’s just talk about the story itself. Ollie was not distressed about the story nor was he telling it in a humorous way. These kinds of potty accidents are a daily occurrences in a classroom where students are at different stages of potty training. Yes, it’s hilarious and kind of strange, but it’s Ollie’s reality. The matter of fact way that he told this story was a great reassurance that Ollie’s teachers were approaching potty training in an open and supportive way.

Now back to the real topic of this post . . .

Diana and I have always valued conversation as an important part of our relationships in our lives. We have prioritized nurturing Ollie’s voice sense the day he was born. Both of us talked to him all of the time as an infant and any way he communicated to us was met with great support.

As a toddler Ollie’s ability to express himself verbally is becoming more and more powerful. His vocabulary is exploding, he can speak with a variety of emotions and most important to me is that he is eager to communicate.

Ollie wants to be part of the dinner table conversations, and when we forget to ask him to join in, he will let us know that he wants to share something. During car rides, sometimes in moments only filled with music, he will start talking to me about something. There are very cute times when I hear him playing in another room explaining what he is doing to Buffy.

Many times when he is confused, he will resort to speaking to us in a tone that is not respectful and ultimately unproductive. We are careful when helping him calm down and try again to focus on him communicating more effectively while not discouraging him to express himself. This is difficult mid-tantrum, but with deep breathing exercises (done by myself and Ollie), we are making progress.

It’s important to remember that while toddlers sometimes sound like they know how to talk, they really have not developed many language skills we take for granted. They don’t know that they do not need to ask for something multiple times, they don’t realize how loud they are speaking and they don’t know that interrupting people is rude. There’s so much that we need to teach them, but these skills are some of the most important lessons they will ever learn.

I remember wondering what Ollie’s voice was going to sound like before he was born and hearing him talk is more wonderful than I imagined.  Ollie has so much to say and I'm so excited for him to have a voice at our dinner table and in the world.

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