Oct 27, 2014

Curious and Open...

On good days, I ask and listen before I throw down the gauntlet of consequences and lectures. No, I'm not talking about time-ins, necessarily. I'm talking about being curious and open.

My therapist and I were talking about curiosity and openness as a way of minimizing anxiety, and the areas where I could practice it. 

The tricky thing about being curious and open is that it's really hard to fake. It doesn't work very well if you tell yourself to ask a question, and even succeed at asking, but then instead of listening to the answer you're plotting your response and how you will SMASH the other person's viewpoint, and possibly the other person entirely. I sometimes have to give myself a little time-out to allow for a perspective-change, and then I can come back and be ready to listen before responding.  But when I can do it, I am sometimes surprised at the answers I get, and how different reality can be from my perceptions and assumptions.

Case in point, and one of my favorite surprising stories about His Highness--

Once when he was about 5, I was putting some laundry away for His Highness. As I opened his drawer I saw that he had dumped the entire contents of his dinosaur bucket inside. Dinos, little plastic boulders, and even some fake vegetation. He was at school, so I couldn't yell for him to "Come here right NOW!!" and he was old enough that I wasn't about to clean out the drawer myself, so I left it for the time being. I didn't know if he was hiding them for some reason, or just being lazy (in a really strange way) about putting them away, so by the time he got home I was genuinely curious as to why...on earth...he had done that. I asked him, "Your Highness, why did you choose to put your dinosaurs in with your socks and unders?" 

He responded, "I thought it would be really cool to open my drawer and have it be like a prehistoric land." 

And then my entire view of the world shifted within about a half second, and of course I replied, "Oh! That's a good idea. I was just wondering." Then I seriously considered borrowing some of the dinosaurs so I could create my own prehistoric sock drawer.

I didn't though, and I didn't ask him about it anymore, and eventually he wanted to play with the dinos and cleared them out of the drawer himself. 

When you think about it, his motivation isn't all that remarkable for a five-year-old, but it was so far removed from my parent-putting-away-laundry motivation that it took me by surprise. And I was really glad that I asked before correcting him, because as I thought better of it, it was very much along the lines of a desk chair on a bed

I think the point is that these kinds of things can happen with anyone, and not just little kids. Perhaps the answer won't be quite as cute so as to make one melt into a puddle of goo over their children's adorable brilliance, but maybe it will be endearing. Or at least, um, not hostile?

It sure seems to work for me. When I remember to ask first and be curious & open...


Kris R. said...

"I thought it would be really cool to open my drawer and have it be like a prehistoric land." Obvious, right. Who doesn't do this? For instance, in my sock/underoo drawer I also have a plethora of hypodermic syringes, rolling papers, and tiny airplane flasks of alcohol -- "people" keep having a problem with this, while I just call it my "junkie" drawer. What's the big deal, right? btw, I am not a robot

Skerrib said...

Dang it Kris! Stop giving people ideas.