Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Art of the Eavesdrop

I may not have a long and impressive list of talents, but I am, of late, unabashedly gladdened by my ability to selectively "listen-in." Mary and Emily, my two older sisters, will testify that as a girl I would consider myself part of a conversation even when I was not in the room. Some nights, once I had already talked Deboni to sleep in our bedroom, I would sit in the dark doorway, staring down the black hallway and listening to Mary and Em tell stories in their own room, finally interjecting when I felt I could no longer hold in my need to comment.
But when it comes to the kids I resist the urge to spoil the flow. And I don’t have a dark hallway, so I have to huddle around corners. But I LOVE listening to my kids conversations. Afton definitely takes the cake for the most random comments. Unfortunately her sweet voice is so soft it is often hard to hear. Like in this conversation overheard while Deej and Afton were playing:

D: No, Aurora doesn’t know where the planet is.
A: indistinguishable
D: Only Rudolph knows where the planet is.
A: indistinguishable
D: No. My planet does not have a Disneyland
A: Go over here! We’re hiding!
D: Na Na Na Na Na Na Afton!
A: Dallin, I want it to be Easter again.

It’s funny how the two talk over each other, their thoughts bouncing around off the other’s in ways I can’t follow. Dallin seems to be aware of what Afton says, but Aftie is only halfway tuned in and likely to jump at random to a completely different subject matter.
The other morning at breakfast:

A: So. . . . D.J. . . . how is it?
D: How is what?
A: Your birthday.
D: It’s not my birthday. It was a long, long time ago. [this conversation occurred in April, Dallin’s b-day is in Dec.]
A: [long pause] Oooohhhhhhhh.

Perhaps my favorite times to listen are during Dallin’s “storytimes.” When he has to use the restroom and suspects he may be a while on the throne, he invites Afton,
“Don’t you want to come to storytime?”
Once there, she sits on the wooden stepstool and listens to a story by Dallin with a protagonist of her choice. The plot inevitably meanders back to a hero scenario echoing one of his favorite movies, but Afton is thrilled and Lindsey listens in as well, humming and washing her hands for the full 20 minutes.

Siblings learn so much from their interaction. I am learning that I really do contribute the most by biting my tongue, even sometimes when I feel they are hurtful to each other. They do better working it out themselves. Recently I heard Dallin say to Afton, “Lindsey is my favorite sister.” I was about to jump in and rescue Afton’s poor emotions when I notice her suck in a surprised gasp before a smile cross her face: “She’s my favorite sister too!”

We adults are just too emotionally constipated. Kids are the greatest.


Kimberly Bluestocking said...

Cute. I can't wait to see how Joy interacts with her future siblings. I hope they'll be friends (most of the time).

Hull Family said...

Sarah, I just love this post. What sweet moments. Your children are darling.
Isn't it wonderful to have comps done and have our husbands back? That was rough! Let's plan a time to get together in a few weeks. We'd love to see you guys again.

jhoopes said...

Very good insights. I read in a Time article once that siblings are really the most influential in a person's life. Interesting!