Monday, 18 June 2012

Conversations, Interrupted

My kids have discovered Knock Knock jokes, but they don't yet quite understand how they work, or what makes a punchline funny.  We've been trying to give them some examples to improve their repertoire, and one of my favourites that my sister taught them goes like this:
  • Knock, knock.
  • Who's there?
  • Interrupting sheep.
  • Interrupting sheep w-
  • BAA!
Although the busyness of my children can sometimes be a welcome distraction for me when I find some social situations too awkward, it can also be an unwelcome inconvenience.  In times when I would really appreciate the chance to sit and chat, kid interruptitis often gets in the way of meaningful interactions with family and friends.
At family gatherings, I feel as though I rarely sit and really talk with my relatives.  There is always a mess to tidy or a disaster to prevent, or sometimes I seize the chance for a break while my family handles the brood.  And so, engaging in conversation with my aunts, uncles, in-laws etc seldom occurs.  And I see them so rarely to begin with.  It upsets me that I don’t know my family and extended family better; that I know little more about them than I hear from second-hand conversations with parents and siblings. 

When we gather with friends, it seems the chance to actually converse beyond the “how-are-things?” starter seldom surfaces.  Conversations get sidelined when there’s a potty emergency, or a sibling argument to contend with.  It can be exhausting to maintain any meaningful discussions, and easier to discuss bedtime routines and 6-year-old girl birthday party ideas.  I miss really talking with my friends, and finding out how things truly are.  And when everyone is so busy that get-togethers happen too infrequently to begin with, I hope that the lack of quality grown-up time together doesn't affect our relationships over time.

Yes, it's hard to feel satisfied after a family or friend visit with the kids.  How can parents really be present in these situations?  While there might be some guilt associated with not giving our full attention to the other adults, it is at least reassuring to know that most of us are in the same boat.   As long as we keep making the effort for the next couple of years, I'm hopeful that once the kids are a bit bigger and a little less demanding of our attention, we'll be able to continue our conversations, uninterrupted.

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