Last week, when I picked up my son from school, he voluntarily commented to me:
‘I’ll fill everybody’s bucket today, even my own.”
My heart immediately fluttered. What prompted his heartfelt statement? I am not sure, but I assume that he had a great day at preschool, was happy to see me, and wanted to inform me that it would be what we like to call “a listening day”.
Of course, I wish/hope/pray/younameit, that every day could be a “listening day,” but I am realistic about parenting life and with three kids under the age of 7, our days are jam packed with numerous non-listening moments.
Apparently, though, he must have been listening at least one of the many times we read “Have you filled a bucket today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids.” We’ve read the story quite a few times and often have daily conversations about whether or not we spent most of our day bucket-filling or bucket-dipping.
My son’s impromptu disclosure that he had made the decision, on his own and without prompt, to fill other’s buckets and be purposeful about it, was a colossal parenting “win” for me that day. But, what I found to be an equal subsequent win, was the fact that this intelligent, kind, typically rambunctious, and excitable 4-year-old boy, intuitively understands the need to feel his own bucket, as well.
As parents, and even just as adults, we struggle to fill buckets.
When we fail to have compassion for the slow driver in front of us, and we curse at them through the window, we are dipping into their bucket.
When we judge and gossip about other parents while in pick-up line, we are dipping into buckets.
When we spend more time on our electronic devices than in real conversation with those we love and care about, we are dipping into buckets.
But, one surefire way we dip into a bucket very near to us, is when we also fail to fill our own damn bucket.
Previously, I have shared that I find it challenging to try to find the energy to be everything to everyone and still care for myself. However, my son’s thoughtful, yet effortless remark that he was going to spend his day bringing joy to others and himself, turned on a light bulb for me; a light bulb that has remained on since his admission of his intended plan to spread positive juju.
More often than not, and more times than we care to listen to, our children are offering up poignant gems of wisdom, but we find ourselves lacking time (and heck, the desire) to hear and process what they are saying. And, sadly, sometimes we merely choose to tune-out.
I plan to stop tuning out.
I plan to be more present in every conversation my children engage me in.
When my kids are not engaging me in conversation, I plan to stimulate one with them, knowing very well that what may come is more knowledge they will impart to me for which I will be forever grateful.
Listen when your kids talk and talk in a way that they will want to listen to you.
The parent-child relationship should not be one of authority figure vs. abiding robot. Conversely, our relationship with our children should be a symbiotic one; in that, your relationship with your child should benefit both of you.
It is evident that our children undergo so much learning on their journey to adulthood and that we, the parents, are responsible for much of that. But, be sure to recognize that we adults undergo significant learning as well on our journey through parenthood and that our children are our teachers, and we owe oh so very much to them.
Keep your ears and eyes on your children, keep your heart open and marvel at what comes your way.
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