I love pillow talk with my 9-year old son.
That bedtime hour when it is time to get tucked in and go to sleep is when my otherwise quiet-guy often turns into a little chatterbox.
Tonight, was one of those awesome chatterbox nights.
“You know, Mom, you can’t change how someone else is feeling.”
“That’s right, ” I said.
“But, you can change how you react.”
“True, you get to choose how you respond to other people,” I said.
“Well, it sure would help me to know how to react if I knew where they were coming from.”
“What do you mean?” I probed. (When my little-big guy gets to talking, his words don’t always keep up with his brain. I wasn’t sure where he was going with this.)
“What I’m trying to say is people have energy-feelings and feeling-feelings.”
“Go on,” I probed. (He was really starting to lose me.)
“It’s so hard to put into words, but it’s like this: Somebody can be feeling like an energy-zero. That’s like– ‘I am so tired I just want to go to sleep’. But, they can also feel like a feeling-zero. That is like–‘I am so grumpy, nothing will make me happy.’ But, an energy-five is like–‘I am playing Skylanders, hanging out.’ And, feeling-five is–‘I’m not really thinking about much; not worried, not excited, just being here.”
“So what does a ten look like?” I asked.
“Weeellll….a ten energy looks like–‘I want to run around the block and do something, I can’t sit still.” (giggling)
“And a ten feeling?”
“Love. Lots of love.” (big sigh, smiles and head nods)
I asked him if he thought we should talk about our energy and feeling levels more in our family.
“Um…yes. Definitely.” He replied. “Ya know, sometimes, I do something like, shoot the paper from my straw at Dad’s face and he thinks it’s funny…that’s when he is at an energy ten and feeling ten. But, oooo…if I do it and he is at a zero…not good.”
“So, how would that work?” I wondered out loud.
“Easy, you just have to ask–‘Where are your levels?’ If dad says zero, I know how to act (like don’t blow that straw wrapper at his head) rather than react (like get my electronics taken away for the rest of the week.).”
“Hmmmm…do you think it would be helpful if Mom and Dad told you our “feeling levels”? So, when we are tired or frustrated, we could say, ‘my energy is 2 and my feeling is 3…and you would know to behave and not act squirrelly.”
“Weeellll…that gets complicated, because I have my levels too, you know. But, yeah, it would help to share our levels more.”
I looked at the clock, it was almost 9 o’ clock.
“Oh man, my feeling is at a 10, but my energy is at a 2,” I told him. “We better get you tucked in.”
“I’m at an energy 3.5, but it’s almost to a 3. It’s going down. It was at a 5 a few minutes ago.”
He wiggled under the covers and pulled the blankets over his head like he always does. I tucked him in and walked out of the room feeling more like a 20 than a 10.
My heart just swells with love after special little conversations like that with my kiddos.
Our kids have so much to teach us if we just take the time to listen.
I hope you consider having a dinner conversation with your family about feelings+energy…I know I plan to bring it up over our pasta dish tonight.
Also, I hope you take the time to really listen to your kids. Life is busy. Believe me, I know. I feel like half of the time I am conversing with my kids while cooking or driving or washing dishes, but rarely am I 100% fully present with them. I am going to be better about that. If I want my feeling to stay at 20 and my kids’ feeling to be at 20, I need to get my energy to five and do more of “being here” with my family.