I often hear teachers and childcare workers say to kids “Do you have your listening ears On?”
It sounds funny.
But our teachers don’t say it to be funny.
They have a good reason.
A lot of the time, our kids just don’t listen to what we are saying.
They hear what they want to hear.
Most of the time, it’s not because they mean to be naughty, or they want to ignore us, or they are trying to infuriate us.
Its just because they are in their own little worlds.
Their imaginative little minds are constantly spinning.
There are zillions of possible things that they could be thinking about at that moment.
And lets face it, even as adults, when something is really on our mind, it can be hard to focus on the task at hand. Its hard to listen to what someone is saying to us if something is really nagging at us in the back of our heads.
But when we don’t really listen – or don’t really hear – what someone is saying to us, there can be consequences.
Yesterday, my children learnt this the hard way.
I have 3 children. Mr J is 5 and is in Prep. Mr S is in Year 2 and is 7. Miss O is in Year 6 and will be 11 in less than 2 weeks.
Our School has decided to raise some funds to help the victims of the Bundaberg Floods. On Monday at school, two students from the Student Council went around to each class and announced that the school would be raising funds by having a free dress day. This means children can come to school in any outfit that they like instead of their school uniform. To raise the funds each child who wishes to participate by wearing free dress must bring a Gold Coin Donation.
The way my kids actually heard the message was quite amusing. You can read about that here.
So yesterday my kids dressed in normal clothes instead of their school uniforms and Miss O took the money that was needed for the Gold Coin Donation.
When we were getting closer to the school, I saw a mother walking her child to school. The child was in school uniform. I said to Miss O, “Are you sure the free dress day is today? That kid is wearing their uniform”.
Miss O wasn’t worried. “Not everyone dresses up on the free dress days. Sometimes kids forget to do it”.
This is true. Sometimes kids do forget. However as we got closer and closer to the school, all we could see were kids in their school uniforms. And by the time we got to the stop-drop-go it was obvious.
It wasn’t a free dress day.
Lets be clear. My 3 kids are in 3 different classrooms. They have 3 different teachers. Surely one of them would have heard the message right, right? Wrong.
It seems however, that the entire school heard the message right, except for my 3 kids.
“Oh well” I smiled broadly at Miss O and the boys. “It seems like you guys are the only ones who didn’t listen to the message properly. You are just going to have to go to school in what you are wearing.”
Inwardly, I was feeling like a bad parent. I felt like I should go home and get their uniforms for them.
But this would not teach a lesson.
Maybe dealing with the consequence would teach them to listen.
“Its OK”, said Miss O. “I’ll just tell them you didn’t wash our uniforms and they weren’t dry on time so we had to wear these clothes”.
I don’t think so.
“No you won’t!” I said.
But I guess I won’t really know what was said.
And for the first couple of minutes as I drove to work, I was guilt-ridden, imagining my children in tears getting ridiculed by laughing children for wearing free dress on the wrong day.
Then I laughed.
And during the day when I thought about it, I laughed again.
At the end of the day I found out that none of the kids were teased. No one cared that they didn’t have their uniforms on (oh the blessings of a public school).
So I don’t know if they learned a lesson at all.
But I did.
I let my kids deal with the consequences on their own, without stressing out about it and trying to save the day.
That’s something, right?
For the record, my kids assure me that the free dress day is actually this thursday.
I wonder if they will be right this time.