It’s Wednesday and I’m reaching back into my archives for a My Learning Curve post that I hope will be helpful to you. An earlier form of this was published in April 2012.
Kalkidan asks questions – lots and lots of questions. I can see dozens of you right now nodding your heads and saying, “Yep, I know just what that is like.” From the time she gets in the car after school, until we sit down for dinner 2 1/2 hours later, the questions are constant and range from the necessary to the ridiculous. I find myself answering, answering, and answering again; eventually I find myself saying, “Kalkidan, you know that is nonsense and I’m not going to answer it.” Hmmm…that’s not a particularly smart strategy.
It’s as if Kalkidan believes she is not being seen, or I will not meet her needs, if she isn’t talking constantly. Which reminds me of something Karyn Purvis says, and this is a paraphrase because I don’t want to dig through my notes this morning, “Abuse tells a child, ‘I don’t like you.’ Neglect tells a child, ‘You don’t exist.'” Perhaps the constant questions help Kalkidan feel as if she exists.
Last week I tried something new. After school I handed Kalkidan six index cards, each with a question mark drawn on it. I explained that each time she asked me a question, from that moment until we sat down to dinner, she would give me a card. When the cards ran out, there would be no more questions.
I tried to be light-hearted and playful, but to be honest, Kalkidan was miserable. She cried, whined, moaned, and did not speak for a long time. Without the constant questions, she didn’t know how to communicate. The kitchen was strangely silent and peaceful – once the crying stopped.
I honestly had no idea how much noise the questions were creating and how much energy they were taking from me.
A friend, who is a therapist, reminded me to reassure Kalkidan that I see her, hear her, and will meet her needs. Sometimes I forget the most basic things and need somebody to point out the obvious. This is not just about extinguishing an annoying behavior, but about healing Kalkidan’s heart and mind.
Let me know if you give this a try. Have a great Wednesday, friends. It’s Beza’s 16th birthday, and I’m taking her out for coffee before school. It should be a sweet way to start the day.
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