Reflections on paying attention

Often when I sit down to read to the boys at night or other times during the day, they like to be doing something else too.  Building with legos, loving on a stuffed animal, drawing, etc.  I must admit, it bugs me a bit that they don’t still sit right next to me all the time looking at all the pages of the book.  But many of our books are longer wordier books now, without so many pictures so it makes total sense for them to be happily doing something else.

One day recently they were doing a particularly active something else while I was reading and it was really bothering me.  I said “you’re not even listening, why should I still be reading?”  S replied by telling me the last few sentences I had just read.  Ok, I thought, so you’re listening quite intently after all.

I started to think about why it bothered me when they appeared to not be listening, even though they had proven to me over and over again they heard what I was reading.  I think it was because I just felt like they should be listening the way I would listen.  Then I checked myself because often I listen to podcasts or audiobooks while doing dishes, or cleaning the house or driving.  So why shouldn’t it be ok for them to multitask as well?

Then I thought more about how I look when I’m listening to them.  I am often on my way through the room with a load of laundry, or cooking, or doing something on my phone or computer.  Yes of course there are times I sit right down and look at them and hear what they have to say, but really, how often do I really sit and give them my full undivided attention?

I am always impressed when I take the time to think through a feeling I have about something “they are doing wrong” and it turns out I’ve been doing it that same way for a long time!