I remember my high school English teacher, during one of his “life lesson” tangents, giving this simple, yet sage advice: “If you have nothing to say, you can always talk about the weather.”
The weather is a relatively benign subject, one that served me well in idle waiting-in-line-at-the-grocery-store chitchat.
At least until I had children.
It seems it’s hard for most folks to resist talking to a cute kid…and nearly impossible to pass up a sweet duo of four-year old twin girls.
I try to relish this time, as I know my girls won’t always be pint-sized and full of magnetic, youthful energy. And the vast majority of the time, the idle chitchat is just that. There are times, though, when it’s anything but benign…
At four years old, my girls have amazing ears and insightful eyes. They are keenly aware of everything going on around them. And I feel passionately protective of their tender hearts.
I may overthink it, but I fear too many, “You’ve got your hands full!” comments might make the girls question one day if they’re a burden. Could the “Better you than me!” tossed out jokingly make the girls wonder if I, too, might rather be doing something else?
I’ve heard a lot of comments in the past four years, but a recent trip to the grocery with one of my daughters yielded one of the worst exchanges yet.
We were waiting in the checkout line and started chatting with a nice grandmother behind us. She was super sweet, and she engaged my daughter right away. I love for the girls to practice their conversation skills, and it helped keep her little hands away from the ginormous candy display.
Everything was going great until the lady asked if she had any brothers or sisters. When she learned that Twin Sister was at home, she said, “I’ll bet you’re the pretty one, right?”
A focus on physical traits AND comparing my precious girls to one another? My heart sank. What a landmine.
I piped in immediately. “No, both my girls are beautiful, inside and out! And they are super smart, too. And they are so kind and loving towards each other. We’re very blessed.”
I know the lady didn’t mean any harm. I know she was just trying to make conversation, and I’m certain she didn’t THINK before she said that.
My responses these days can no longer be met with a kind nod and echoing sentiment.
My girls are watching.
They are listening.
I’m trying to model grace. And I’m trying to protect my girls’ precious tender hearts. Of course, I can’t expect the random lady at the grocery store to have that in mind when she makes idle chitchat.
But it merits asking, “What are we saying to girls?”
On hiatus from a career in marketing, Mandy Emedi is the mother of four-year old twin girls. She blogs about their adventures, and the challenges and joys of motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs. She also founded a Mothers of Multiples group in her community.
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She probably assumed they were identical and thought she was making a joke… But you’re right about social chit-chat with kids being filled with landmines. Although usually it is my kiddo making the awkward comments 🙂