Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Silence Experiment

So yesterday, I had oral surgery (long story) and was told that I needed to spend the weekend talking as little as possible. No problem, I thought. I'll just make sure my husband is home to handle the kids and we'll be fine. I'll get to rest (maybe even blog!), and he'll get some time with the kids.

I was not prepared for my youngest son's response to my silence. Even though I had tried to prepare him ahead of time for what to expect when I returned from my appointment, he just couldn't understand why I wasn't talking. It seemed that he needed assurance that I was OK and the only way it really clicked in with him that I was OK was for me to talk to him. After I did a little talking and he was reassured that I was OK, things settled down in a very interesting way.

It seems that I talk all the time. I didn't realize that I did this, as funny as that sounds. I'm not a loud person and I don't think that I am constantly chattering, but I think it is nearly impossible to be a silent parent. And that has become really obvious trying not to talk for the past 24 hours.

But the interesting thing is that everyone, from the girl at the counter when I was buying some juice at the health food store, to my children, have all responded differently to my lack of conversation. For example, my son just came into my office asking for a piece of printer paper. I pointed to where it was living. He got the paper and left the room without saying a word. There was a quiet acknowledgment from him before he left, but he didn't say anything. It seems like people around me are also quieter when they are near me.

I'm still communicating, though the nature of my communications have changed. It more resembles charades and is certainly comical for them, though sometimes frustrating for me. But I have found it interesting that the nature of their communication with me has also changed. Go figure. Perhaps if I want my house to be quieter, it means that I need to be quieter at times when I would normally have a lot of words.

Maybe we can all try this and see what happens with our children if we just stop talking sometimes when we would have said a lot of words to say and simply stop instead and listen. I wouldn't suggest going the oral surgery route to try it out, but see what happens if you are just quietly present with your children and see how they respond. I'd love to hear!

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