A Lutheran Says What?

Sermons and random thoughts on God, the world and the intersection of the two

Glorious Adult Dialog November 22, 2013

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One of the joys of having older children is real conversations. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the baby talk of my toddlers and some of those words have found a permanent place in our family vocabulary. (Andrew called elephants “eppies” and we still do today.) But lets face it, unless you find Dora the Explorer fascinating and think that toileting details are the end all and be all of the day, as an adult you can go a little stir crazy if cooped up with little ones for too long.
As a director and teacher of a preschool for many years I developed coping techniques. You learn to have coded dialog with co-teachers of more adult topics that the children will never have any idea what you are talking about. In a world of “Mary had a little lamb,” positive reinforcement, never being crabby, using only the cleanest of clean language, tea parties and lego buildings, you have to have an outlet before you snap and either start swearing at kids like a sailor or worse yet-becoming as squeaky clean as a “Step-ford wife.” We’ve all met them: the syrupy sweet preschool teachers who say “gosh darn” and love their assortment of child made jewelry that they wear ALL THE TIME. Annoying and in my opinion, extremely scary. I think one of the reasons why the school I led was so successful was that I hired teachers who were real people, who occasionally messed up, as in inadvertently teaching a four year old to say “sucks,” not knowing that Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” was maybe not an appropriate ring tone, had a few personal issues, would never wear homemade jewelry but always loved the children and the parents. Parents could relate to us and we were no different than they were. We were just gluttons for punishment to hang out with little children all day while their moms went to a coffee shop. I know, right?
While I loved being a teacher and a director of a school, it could be particularly maddening when you are preschool teacher all day and then you come home to your own young children. It’s like watching Barney 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Some days you can completely understand why some species of animals eat their young. Anything to get to use the bathroom by yourself.
I sometimes miss those days of simpler parenting but the trade off is glorious adult dialog. I picked my daughter up from work two nights ago and as she got into the car, I asked her how her job went. She regaled me with the typical co-worker stories and issues and how she was handling it, how she did something new for the first time, a conversation with her boss (that I thought she handled extremely well for 17) and other quite grown up topics. Now, don’t think that I am one of those parents trying to be my teenagers friend, I am not, but it was nice to converse in a grown up way with her and hear her thoughts and musings. Both of my children now have opinions on politics, religion, the environment, philosophy, literature, military conflicts and popular culture. They also share with me their relationships, inner wrestling, longings and dreams. It feels like quite a privilege to be allowed into these places in their lives and I try and relish every moment and conversation because all too soon these talks will be over a phone and not in my living room every night.