I left my listening ears at home   Leave a comment

I hear it in libraries, in schools, churches and any other place where children gather – phrases such as, “put on your listening ears,” or “use your inside voices,” and today at the YMCA,  I heard a mom tell her daughter to use her ‘walking feet’ on the pool deck.  I never quite understood the reasoning behind using such phrases. If my husband answers his cell phone in the store and talks too loudly, I simply say, “Shhh, you’re talking too loud.”  It would feel ridiculous for me to say, “Please use your inside voice,” – and I would feel just as silly talking to my children or other children that way.  Children do understand normal conversation and I think they appreciate  not being talked down to by using these cutesy phrases. A group of first graders touring the library will understand – “You need to talk quietly in the library.” 

We live in a time where parents are so concerned about damaging their poor child’s self-esteem. Telling a child to be quiet while someone else is talking is too harsh, so instead we say, “put on your listening ears,” because it sounds nicer and less like a command.  Maybe that is part of the reason why many moms become exhausted when they are around their children.  They are trying to keep up an artificial front of cutesy talk, endless counting to three, validating feelings instead of just being real.

The next time I’m at the library and hear a teacher say, “Now everyone, Please put on your listening ears,” I secretly hope some kid pops up and says, “But teacher I left them at home.”  I bet she’ll be quick to say, “Sit down and be quiet.”

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Posted January 12, 2011 by The Nonconformist Mom in childhood

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