I was talking yesterday about how we interact with our children when they come with a request.
In the past, I’ve said “just a minute,” usually so I can finish what I’m doing before I respond. I’m very distractible, and not just with things I want to avoid. Just this week, twice I’ve left coffee half-way made and wondered all day why I was walking around in a fog.
Then I noticed that “just a minute” meant nothing to my children. They know how long a minute is, and they noticed that there was no correlation between actual time and my stated time. So they nagged. After a few seconds, they asked again. They were afraid I’d forget, and I was annoyed because the way they ensured that I didn’t forget was to ask every 30 seconds until I payed attention.
Yes, I could tell them not to ask again, but really, my “just a minute” was misleading at worst and meaningless at best. So I have been attempting to instead give a specific reference point instead: ask me again when mommy is done with the dishes. Let me put this away, and then you can ask me. If I say just a minute, I want it to have meaning. I really don’t want my children to tune out what I say because I am speaking thoughtlessly.
I still have a ways to go. Let mommy finish her email can mean 5-30 minutes, depending on the email. It’s a meaningless statement. So is I’m getting up soon (something I’ve said to my children this morning, since I started this post when they were still sleeping, and they woke up before I had finished. Is the problem with these statements the ambiguity, or that I’m on the computer longer than I should be? I’ll be thinking on this.