Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Difference Between Listening and Hearing

I should go grocery shopping.  I should go find out what the cat is batting around the dining room (it's dark-colored and flat, so whatever it is probably wasn't designed to be mauled by cats).  I *should* get my lazy butt up and GO is what it boils down to.

I think I've grown roots.  Help me, Coffee.

M1 is in his room.  We're on Day Three of an epic battle.  It involves two people:  Mom Who Means It and Boy Who Doesn't Care.

It boils down to a conversation that goes roughly like this:

"Mom, what kind of oatmeal is this?"

"Brown sugar and cinnamon."

*pause while Mom pours milk into glasses and sets them on the table*

"Mom, I don't like maple.  It has little bits..."

(Mom interrupts) "What kind did I say this was?"


"Did you hear me?"

"Oh, I heard you... I just wasn't listening again."

Cue inward mental rage on Mom's part as she reminds the Boy Who Doesn't Care yet AGAIN to listen.


Doesn't seem like it'd be all that hard, does it?

I attended a few MOPS (Mothers of PreschoolerS) meetings a few years ago, back when M1 was attending kindergarten and M2 was young enough to qualify as an actual preschooler.  They were on Wednesday mornings, which are my grocery mornings, so I didn't make it to many, but the one I remember most has stuck with me for a long time.  The speaker for the day came in and was talking about the difference between hearing and listening, and one of the best quotes she had was from her own daughter who said that "To listen, you have to sit down on the inside."

I loved it, and I try to remember that especially when one of the children is upset, because nothing makes a bad situation worse for a child than feeling like their issues aren't important enough for someone to "sit down on the inside" and really understand.


I do believe that definition goes both ways, and I'm apparently spending my week attempting to impress upon my ADHD child who also has Apathy of Asperger's the importance of sitting down on the inside.  I'm not sure it's a battle I can win, but until he can manage to respond to a single simple command, request, or statement appropriately and without me repeating myself half a dozen times, I'm going to keep plugging away.  I'm not asking for much.  Just that he actually processes what I say and doesn't tune it out completely.  Even Oz knows better.  I don't *usually* talk just to enjoy the sound of my own voice. 

I feel like yelling, "LISTENING IS IMPORTANT, KIDS!!!  One day it'll save your butt at your job!"

I might also add, "EAVESDROPPING DOESN'T COUNT!!!"

*sigh*  He just came out of his room with money to take to spend at the vending machines at the grocery store, despite the fact that I had specifically told him twice this morning that he wasn't allowed to do it.

Oh, and the cat is chewing on a plastic frog.  Time to see if maybe HE will listen to me. 

Wish me luck!


Mom on the Verge said...

There are days that I want to get a dog, just so that someone will listen to me and do what I ask them to do!

My favorite refrain these days goes something like,

"Put your shoes on." (Pause. No answer)
"What did I ask you to do?" (Pause. Blank stare.)
"Put your shoes on. Say it for me." (Pause. Boy says it.)
"Thank you. Now do it."

But I do find myself yelling something like, "There is SOUND coming out of my head!! It means SOMETHING!! THINK!! What does it mean? Put your shoes on! We're leaving NOW!"

Ahem. Not that I have troubles...

Christy said...

Dogs don't listen either. I am also constantly asking if I speak at a level only dogs can hear...then they don't hear me either. I like the "sit down on the inside"...will have to use that. Dobson wrote in "Bringing Up Boys" that they are small men and if you want them to hear have to walk over to them and touch them and make sure they are looking at you before you speak to them. It seems like a lot of work. I think I will keep sounding like Ben Stein on Ferris Bueller and then scream like a maniac at some point. It makes me unpredictable which I perceive gives me an edge.

hornblower said...

My kids come by it honestly. My dh has the "not listening" skill down pat. He can be looking right at me, nodding & be completely tuning me out. I figured this out way before we were married; I once kept talking & started saying the most outrageous things about what my professor had done in class. Dh's 'trick' consisted of just trying to hang on to one or two phrases every once in a while & repeating them in an encouraging manner when there was a pause in the talking 'at' him. So he found himself saying "pants off in front of the class & got up on the table....." & he trailed off uncertainly. :-D BUSTED for not listening.

I agree about the touching (sometimes punching is good too). Make it short. Make'em repeat it back to you. Make paper lists of chores (with pictures) and stick them on their door. And - paradoxically - talk less. The less you say, the more they listen.

Don't repeat yourself.

One of the big tricks of dog training is to not repeat yourself. You don't get a sit by saying "sit, sit, sit, SIT, SIT!!!!!!" Well, you do eventually get a sit but you're also inadvertently training the dog that the cue for sit is not 'sit'; it's actually "sit, sit, sit, SIT, SIT!!!!!!" & forever more the dog will wait until you say them all & in the right tone before happily complying.