February 7, 2012

Trains and Meltdowns

Sometimes Carl and I forget just how much the littles do pick up from our conversations with each other. Car rides are our best time for discussion, which means that they get to hear everything we say. We do have some sense of propriety - some matters for discussion stay in the bedroom, yes? - but we never hesitate to talk about serious matters in the car or at the dinner table, from politics to philosophy to theology to our future.

It's that last one that was giving Joy some worry, and made me realize how aware I really do need to be of little ears.

We've told the girls for a while that we will probably be moving to Chicago in the next year. We've built it up for them, given them all sorts of things to look forward to when we move out there (especially, oh especially the train). Except now all of the sudden Chicago has become Boston (most likely - long story that can be summed up in "just as good of a grad school for Carl, better job opportunities"), and we kinda sorta forgot to talk it over with the littles.

We've talked about it plenty in front of them, though, which just might explain Joy's most recent meltdown precipitated by not being able to ride the train when we took Gunka (their great-uncle) to the station after a visit. I got no sense out of her sobs (with hands pressed firmly over her eyes while tears streamed down behind them), but Carl finally managed to get out of her that she didn't want to move to Boston; if we were going to move at all, she wanted to move to Chicago. With the trains.

A little more digging also found out that this upcoming trip we're taking to visit the school, she thought was going to be our move. She thought we were moving to Boston this weekend.

Ack, my heart broke.

Joy pays attention to everything, she thinks about everything, but she doesn't talk about much. Especially when she's worried or scared.

We explained to her that we don't even know for certain yet that we will be moving to Boston, but when we do know, we'll tell them. We'll have lots of time to prepare (granted, our move from PA to NY took place in two weeks, but to a kid, that's long enough). We won't just up and move them without talking about it.

Then we started talking about all the fun things there are to do in Boston - I even read to her a little from Make Way for Ducklings - and we promised that there are trains in Boston, too, and we will ride them.

She's been doing better ever since then, but it was a good reminder to us that, as they used to say, "little pitchers have big ears," and if we are going to talk about everything and anything in front of the littles, we'd better make sure we are including them in those talks, explaining things to them, and using language and ideas they can understand.

Otherwise, there is going to be a whole lot of confusion, and many more meltdowns.

And nobody wants that.


  1. It reminds me of the Onion headline I saw this weekend..."Area Dad Figures He's Got At Least Three More Months Of Screwing Around Before Son Gains Ability To Form Long-Term Memories."

    James and I are going to SUCK at this little pitchers thing. :(

    1. The worst thing of all is that Carl and I were sorta patting ourselves on the back about how open we are around the kids, how we don't censor our conversations. We're like the Austins or the Murrys, only with less sci-fi!

      Except, duh, not censoring conversations does not mean scaring the crap out of your kid because you're talking above their heads instead of actually including them in your conversation and being aware of them.


  2. I remember you were the same way growing up. When Mom and Dad would talk around us, I could have cared less, but you would take everything to heart and worry about it. Mom said they would have to go out for dinner just to talk openly without worrying you.

    I wonder if some of it is the excitement you try to build up, in order to make changes easier on the girls. Then when things don't turn out exactly as planned, as seems to happen a lot in our lives, your eldest worries and is disappointed.

    1. I actually don't remember that at all! Here I was thinking she was taking more after Carl, again.