I listen to my kids.
Really, I do.
I am a multi-tasker in every sense of the word. I can listen to my children while I am filling the dishwasher, while at the same time eating a snack, while at the same time holding a phone nestled between my shoulder and ear without using my hands, while at the same waiting on said phone for the customer service representative to return to the line, while at the same time eyeing the pot I have boiling on the stove.
Despite all this, I listen.
My 5-year old came running in the room to show me his drawing yesterday. I looked at it while I was also simultaneously doing five different things and said, "Wow! That's cool!" and resumed my business.
It was then that I saw my 9-year old son pull his brother aside and whisper a little too loudly, "Dude, that's what Mom always to us when she's not really paying attention. She's not really listening to you."
And my heart broke into about 3000 little pieces.
My first reaction was to get defensive.
I do listen.
Of course I was listening. I heard everything he said. I looked at the picture. I complimented it. But perception is everything, and if they think I'm not listening at times because I'm also doing something else, then that's what matters.
Heaven forbid they think I don't care.
Later that day at the dinner table, I made an extra effort to make sure that all four kids knew that I was listening. I made eye contact. I laughed at their jokes. I asked them individual questions. As we often do at family dinners, we discussed our highs and lows of the day.
It was one of those perfect family meals when the whole family was together, and we talked and enjoyed each other's company without having to rush.
I asked my oldest son what his favorite TV show is. Before he could answer, I said, "Lemme guess: 'The Suite Life on Deck', or 'Wizards of Waverly Place'."
He scoffed. "No. way. I still watch those, but I'm a fan of the classic TV shows."
Ah. He's a Renaissance man. He likes the classics. Intrigued, I raised my eyebrow and queried, "The classics?"
"Yeah Mom. Ya know, like 'The Andy Griffith Show', 'Leave it to Beaver', 'The Three Stooges', and 'Family Matters'."
One of these things is not like the others...
Dude. 'Family Matters' is "classic" television. Ask a tweener. They'll set you straight. And it won't make you feel the least bit old either, especially if you..ahem...distinctly remember watching NEW episodes of this show as a teenager while babysitting Friday nights and watching ABC's "TGIF", along with NEW episodes of 'Full House'.
He spits on those episodes.
Stefan Urquelle is a sham.
My boy enjoys watching the adventures of Winslow Family-slash-Urkel.
But I already knew this about him. Because I listen. I notice things.
Even when they think I don't notice. Even when they think I'm not listening.
However, at the dinner table that night, I made sure they knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this time, I was listening.
Because they matter. And, pun intended, family matters.