Monday, 15 June 2015

Taking time to listen

The older LittleBear gets (and I suspect, the older I get) the more I find myself sounding like my mother. Fortunately, I don't happen to think that's a bad thing, though it is a little disconcerting when I open my mouth and my mother's voice comes out.

"Will you please stop talking - I can't think straight!"

I've been using that one more and more recently. And I vividly remember it being used upon me, really quite frequently.

Most people who meet LittleBear on a casual footing would be surprised to discover just how much he talks. Round new people, or even familiar people at times, he completely clams up, shrinks his head down into his shoulders, hides his face against me and points at me, muttering, "you tell them" about whatever is occurring. With me? He basically talks almost non-stop. And I just cannot function with constant noise, however adorable, funny or entertaining that noise might be.

I don't know whether I'm odd, whether it's hereditary, and both my mother and I are odd, or whether lots of people feel this way and just hide it better, but I cannot stand noise. I've never really enjoyed nightclubs or concerts, because I stop functioning. I can't think, I can't talk, I feel confused, bewildered, even angry. 

I'm the polar opposite of BigBear, who doesn't seem to be able to exist without background noise. Every room he enters, a radio is switched on, or the television. He loathes silence as much as I seek it out. Yes, this does cause issues, but we compromise, mostly. We no longer have the radio on in the bedroom when we wake up, and at breakfast I've met him on the middle ground of "no talking" radio. We can have Radio 3 and some gentle classical music, but nothing more strenuous. I'm not at my best in the morning, temper-wise. Having voices bleating away in the corner of the room disrupts something in my brain and I become irrationally angry and frustrated. It's as though I can't think because something else is filling my head with unwanted information.

Imagine me with someone who never stops talking. It's not pretty. Trying to write a shopping list, or find the things we need to be able to leave the house, or remember what emails I need to send, with a constant stream of, "Mummy, are nail clippers sharper than sharks teeth? What about a Great White's teeth? Are they sharper than dinosaur teeth? Are your clippers sharper than my clippers? Why are they Mummy? I'm going to make the world's biggest shark, it's going to be bigger than a Whale Shark, even bigger than a Blue Whale, it's going to be as big as the moon, and it's not going to have a dorsal fin, it's going to be streamlined and super, super, super fast. Mummy where are the long pieces (of lego)? Mummy, where are the eyes? It's going to have lots of eyes and then it will be able to see in the deep ocean even better than anything else ever."

So sometimes I snap and ask my LittleBear to please just be quiet for a moment so I can think straight. ("Mummy? Are you thinking in wiggly lines?")

And sometimes, out of nowhere, a little voice demands attention...


With an inward sigh I smile, for the umpty-tumpth time and say, "Yes sweetheart?"

"I love you Mummy."

And he turns back to continue playing with whatever he was playing with.

And I remember just how important it is to keep listening, keep caring, keep taking an interest, keep engaging with my LittleBear's world, because if I didn't listen to everything he wanted to tell me about sharks, I wouldn't be there to hear the most beautiful words in the world.

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