My 18 year old son just graduated from high school last Spring and he decided to go alone for three weeks this Summer to Europe to skateboard, explore and sight see. Of course I know also that he will discover new things about himself... gain confidence in his own ability to figure out how to get over challenges and bumps along the road. It has been a tremendous all around experience.
In the weeks prior to leaving he wasn't really interested in doing any planning at all and told me that he didn't really want me to do so either. Nevertheless... I persisted....
He finally relented and wrapped his mind around the benefits of doing some planning...the greatest of which was the fact that making some arrangements in advance would most likely save him money. So he laid out his city hit list and allowed me to chart the most efficient course and modes of travel and most economic and desireable lodging, etc. Once the rough plan was mapped out though, I did what I do and leveled up and created a PDF with each, and I mean each and every step laid out. ...Where in the airport to buy a SIM card...Exactly where that was in the airport ...Each train connection with all the pertinent information clearly detailed ....Exact hotel addresses with check in and check out times. Nothing was overlooked. In the days before he left I insisted on going over it with him and when he showed his obvious offense to my overmothering I pushed on, letting him know that he didn't have to reference this document at all if he didn't want to but at least he'd have it if he wanted to look at it. He was very patient.
The day came for me to drive him the 2 hours up to LAX to depart on his big adventure. As I backed out of the driveway I thought of some other essential, absolutely necessary travel wisdom tip that I needed to impart to him. He interrupted me as I began. "I'm thinking that what you are telling me is that I AM GOING TO DIE OUT THERE! There is no way I can survive out there on my own unless you tell me absolutely everything that you know! How do I manage my own life here at home day after day without you telling me how to do it all?" I felt my lips slowly come to rest together. Closed. I wasn't wounded. I was enlightened. And I was thankful that he was somewhat gentle in communicating my over reach to me.
We sat quiet in the car for quite a while... much longer that I am usually capable of. I thought about a few things during that "me" time. Finally I broke the silence to tell him that I wasn't wearing him out with all my Wisdom because I didn't think he was totally capable...In fact I know he is. I was pelting him with my wisdom because of all my own issues (another blog entry for another day).
It led me to thinking about Love Languages. As I thought, I chuckled a bit about how some mom's love language is Cookies. I'm not that mom. My Love Language is Preparation, which is Latin for Control. Yes, this is the way I communicate to my children that I love them! I am trying to help them be successful and avoid potential potholes in life by using all my knowledge and experience of being in those potholes translated into a torrent of words and instruction. Maybe they just wanted Cookies though.
In fact, I may not even know what Love Language they use and respond to because I'm so busy speaking my own that I have barely noticed that they aren't responding appropriately... or even at all.
My mom is awesome. She was involved for many years teaching English as a second language to adults of many different language backgounds. Even with all her training and experience though, when talking with (at) someone who's English was limited she would speak slowly and with her volume turned up. It became something we teased her about. Could it be that when trying to communicate with my kids that I'm not really concerning myself with trying to use their language or gauge their comprehension? Am I really just speaking my own language really loudly and without ceasing? Don't answer that. I already know the answer.
When hearing about various Love Languages in the past I think my focus was always on what language resonated with me (me, me, me, me, meeee). That was the language I responded to and would speak to others. Almost like Americans traveling in a foreign land and expecting everyone there to be fluent in English. I've clearly missed something very BIG. It doesn't matter what language I speak. If I really want to communicate with someone else and have my meaning be correctly interpretted, I need to speak their language. Or, at least I need to try to use an awkward mash up of the two together ...which honestly, people appreciate. At least trying to use someone else's language to communicate with them expresses a respect and an appreciation of your differences.
As per usual, if we are always focused on our own agenda, needs, comforts, wants, etc. we will really miss some essential information that we would gleen from listening well, observing and really hearing from each other. If we could do that it would make us so much more effective as human beings...as communicators... as mothers...
I think I need to spend the day learning how to make Cookies.
James 1:19 "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry..."