by Michelle Iuelo
Kids come with uncomfortable conversations; they are part of the standard equipment package. I get a real kick out of watching new parents encourage their children to talk. I giggle a little inside and resist the urge to say “You might not want to do that.” You might not want to because one day in the middle of the grocery store your cute little vocabulary filled toddler will walk up to a complete stranger, poke them ‘Pillsbury Dough Boy’ style in the middle and say, “Mommy, that man has a very big belly.” You will be paralysed with horror. Welcome to Uncomfortable Conversations, the next eighteen years are going to be a lot of fun!
I love how this phase starts with enquiries about where babies come from and how the baby gets in there in the first place. Then the whole “You don’t have to tell the washing machine repair man that Daddy doesn’t understand how something that never gets used gets broken.” These primer days are the place where comical memories are created.
Soon enough you are on to handling tough enquiries about food-banks and homelessness. Explaining why people live on the street or beg for money and food. These discussions lead right into the causes of conflict, war and human sacrifice. Nobody said the conversations were going to get easier. Trying to explain child abuse, sexual abuse and school shootings will make you question what kind of world you brought your child into and terrify you to send them out into it.
Into the world they are though and there is no turning back the train on uncomfortable conversations. Next stop; puberty, drugs, alcohol, sex, texting, sexting, disease control, birth control, parties, driving, drunk driving, relationships, personal respect, personal choices, showing up at Grandma’s 70th birthday party nursing a hangover. This is going to be so much fun! If you are not at this phase yet, don’t worry, the conversations don’t happen all at once. They are more like a dripping faucet, constant, relentless and nerve testing. You can try to turn them off but they just keep coming, talk after talk after talk after… well you get the idea. It doesn’t matter that you never wanted to have a discussion with your child about when is the right time to become sexually active, and ‘How old were you Mom?’ Those conversations are staring you in the face, just like the rotund man at the grocery store who just got poked in the belly by your child. Deal.
I’m not going to lie, I’m not sure I have it in me most days to keep talking, especially when two thirds of all uncomfortable conversation is met with rolling eyes or a “Ya, okay Mom.” Some days I just want to stop talking and let them figure it all out on their own. I promise you will have days like that too.
Then one night the phone will ring like mine did this week, your teenager will be in the other end and there will be no conversation. There will be you picking up your child, their friend and their friend’s “I drank too much bucket” and getting everybody home safe. That ride I found out is pretty quiet, because all of those uncomfortable conversations have been worthwhile.
Keep talking even when you think no one is listening; keep listening even when no one is talking. Take on every uncomfortable conversation. That horror you feel in your chest will subside and if you are lucky the man with the big belly will also have a good sense of humor.
Pleasantville Note: I was looking for someone to submit posts for my business site, and this lovely lady Michelle stepped forward who had such a positive outlook on life, I immediately loved her. Then she started to submit these AMAZING, like I’m not kidding, TOTALLY AMAZING posts to the Best Tools for Schools blog.
Here’s the thing though, you might be missing out. So, I asked Michelle if I could post this week’s post here because I want you to know about her. I truly believe you are missing out if you’re not reading her stuff.
You can find Michelle on her blog The Space Between Raindrops, and you can follow her on Twitter @micheskitchen. Finally, don’t miss her weekly posts at Best Tools for Schools. Michelle will make you laugh, cry and drink. Silly me, I meant think, she’ll make you think.