I have no filter…at all.
What I mean by that is I have a tendency to say horribly inappropriate things at inappropriate times. Really this is not a big deal (some may contend I have kind of made a living doing so) except for the fact that I have four little digital voice recorders running around the house. So, as one can assume, some of the questionable things that you may hear from my children… we’ll just say they came by them honestly.
According to my oldest son, it was “frickin’ cold” this morning. He got that gem of an expression from me.
Their memory for what my wife and I say borders on the superhuman. Something said in passing leaves a lasting impression. Recently my son brought up at dinner, “Do you remember that time you and Mom had a fight? Boy, I didn’t like that.”
First, let me just say my wife and I very seldom fight and have only done so in front of the kids once. It was a stressful time in our lives, and it came to a head at an inopportune time.
But it goes to show that what can stick in a child’s memory. That fight was a little over a year ago and only lasted about 90 seconds… but it stuck. He will always remember that fight, that moment of discomfort.
That same son was having a discussion with his older brother on Easter Sunday. They are currently at that formative age when questions about the logistics of heaven begin to form. Things like “Is it cold in heaven? I’d prefer it not be cold” tend to crop up in conversation. Nothing really dogma-challenging, but you can’t beat the curiosity of a child.
So, from the back of the van, I heard my oldest ask, “Are their toys in heaven?”
His brother instinctively responded, “No, but there are balloons.” The questioner was confounded by the speed and certainty of the response and wanted to know the source of this information. “Dad told me,” he added.
I racked my brain trying to remember telling him that. I knew I had said it, but the context was escaping me. I couldn’t link it to some discussion I perceived as being a “life altering” or even very memorable.
The reason I couldn’t link it to a large discussion was because it wasn’t part of one. It was a passing comment. One Sunday we went to Applebee’s and my big, blue-eyed boy managed to talk a waitress out of a balloon. The balloon made it home, but between the van and the house the balloon made its escape.
My sweet son was distraught, and the only thing I could think to do was put my hand on his shoulder and say, “It’s ok. The angels will get a chance to play with it now.”
At the time it didn’t seem to make a difference. He was still upset and wailing like a wounded walrus, but it stuck.
That incident was more than two years ago and he just turned 6. Clearly, the kid who has to be told five times to brush his teeth is listening far more closely than I realized.
So it seems that this dad needs to watch what he says a little more closely. I may or may not like the outcome if I don’t. The power of words lingers far longer than the moment when they’re spoken.