Today, I picked up Luca from school during the lunch break. We were ready to sign him out and I asked him to wait our turn and, seemingly out of nowhere, he sat down on the floor and started bawling.
After a brief attempt to calm him down, ask him about what was wrong, and trying to soothe him, all without success, I announced to him that mommy wasn't going to respond to him until he calmed down and was ready to talk nicely.
The 15 minute drive from the school to our house seemed like an hour. He cried and complained the entire ride home. I turned up the radio and literally tuned him out. Not one word came out of my mouth. It was my way of letting him know that it was not OK to be like this with mommy.
Afterwards, I called my husband on the way back to the office and he told me about a show he'd just listened to. Researcher and child development specialist Betty Hart talks about her years-long study. Talking to children, especially before the age of 4, has an invaluable impact on their verbal skills and emotional development. Other studies show that verbal skills and emotional development are linked to later success in life...
I sat there back at the office feeling the pangs of mother's guilt. It's not like I didn't know better, or like I've never read those studies. I left my task list intact for the remainder of the afternoon and sat there thinking "I should have talked it out with him. Not engaged in the conflict, just talked him down, talked through the crying. Even if he didn't stop, he would have absorbed what I was saying. Maybe next time it would help him cry less...." I did pull myself together and saw things with perspective after a little bit. After all, most of my time with Luca is spent talking with him.
I got home after the office and found his feelings were a little hurt. We talked about it and made up. And then we talked some more about his day, and ended the evening ready a book in bed. It was lovely.