September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.


By Natalie Schmitt- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Nothing is sweeter to a mother's ear than the melody of a conversation between a father and child accented with bursts of laughter, teasing and sharing words of wisdom and respect. The other morning when I walked in the barn for chores, Jonathon and Mark were half way done with milking and half way through solving the world's problems. They were chatting up a storm between the sound of the pulsators and the snap of the units being moved to the next set of cows. It was sweeter than any classical arrangement on MPR. With Al out of commission for the past couple of weeks due to shoulder surgery, the kids have been filling in with some of the milkings as their schedules allow and spending some much needed alone time with Mark. The barn has become their special place to talk.
We all have our special places to hold those life conversations. One of my favorite places to talk to my mother was over a sink full of suds and dirty dishes. I rarely did dishes, so when I grabbed a towel to help, Mom knew I needed time to talk. The monotony of the job was a perfect backdrop to concentrate on life situations. For Mark and me, our best conversations come from long drives at night as the passing mile markers measure the conversation. The long silent pauses are whisked away by the miles as we pour out our concerns with no interruptions or quick escape routes when the topics are difficult to face.
I have discovered over time that not everyone is ready to talk about what is on their mind at the same time. When the kids decide they are ready to open up and talk, I have learned to drop everything I'm doing to listen. I know they want to hear their problems voiced out loud. They just need a sounding board and I'm it! It seems mothers are easier to confide in. The hard part for me is discerning if they want advice, action or silence.
Conversations with fathers can sometimes take on different skills. It can be a chance for a child to hold an adult conversation with someone they look up to and not have to worry about upsetting. It is like they are practicing with their dads at holding adult conversations when they get bigger. Just like they practiced climbing stacked bales of straw in the shed, struggling to lift their short little legs high enough to reach the next level. A friendly boost from behind helping them make it over the top until they can do it all on their own. Talks with dad seem to have a life and rhythm all their own.
Regardless if it is barn talk or sink talk, communication is not the act of talking. It is the art of listening. I was cleaning out a catch all drawer in the china hutch the other day and came across a typed poem. I don't know where I originally came upon this, but I know it is old since newspapers were less than a buck. I thought I would share it with you as you get ready to gather around the table for Easter with your families so you too can hear to wonderful rhythms of conversations through the generations.
When I ask you to listen to me, and you start giving advice, you have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me, and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.
Listen! All I asked was that you listen, not talk or do - just hear me. Advice is cheap: thirty-five cents will get you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper, that I can do for myself; I'm not helpless.
But, when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to convince you and can get about the business of understanding what's behind this irrational feeling.
And when that's clear, the answers are obvious and I don't need advice. Irrational feelings make sense when you understand what's behind them.
So, please listen and just hear me! And, if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn; and I'll listen to you.
Happy Easter!
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