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Silence

I’ve always talked to my son a lot in both English and Serbian. From day one, talking to my son has been the most natural thing to do. Yes, in the back of my mind there was the thought that being talked to and sung to was good for him in so many ways (intellectually, emotionally, linguistically), but more than anything it was what I felt compelled to do. It was a way for me to express all the feelings bubbling in me, a way to connect to that very little person in my arms, a way to encourage him to “talk” back to me. Then, as he grew, talking to him became also a linguistic tool, and then I read a few articles about the intellectual benefits of talking to your kid. Over time, a new “chip” was somehow built into the back of my head continuously sending the  message Talk. Talk. Talk.

Of course, at times, I love to talk, but I also love silence. Both of my full-time jobs awarded me with generous chunks of silence in my day. I always shaped my life in a way that allowed enough silence. I need silence the way I need air and water. Silence allows me to see, formulate, construct, analyze. I enjoy it the way I enjoy music – each one at a different time.

A few months ago, I somehow reached a point where I started noticing these chunks of time I was spending with Andrei in silence. He plays with something, maybe in the living room while I am in the kitchen, and we are both silent. If he comes to ask a question, I respond. But that’s it. I don’t label objects (That is a potato masher. To je rukavica.), I don’t ask him any questions, I don’t tell him what I am doing and what I am about to do. No, once he is back to his toys, I am back to my silence.

Next, I started noticing an impeding sense of guilt that, at these silent times, I may not be giving my son what he needs. Stimulation. Words. Novelty. I had to dissect my feelings and construct a new outlook.

I started here: I need silence to feel well and to be able to give my son what he needs. But then there was this thought: Does my son need silence too (for the same reason I do, to sort things out)? At night, he has his dreams, plenty of them based on how much he talks in his sleep. During the day, may he actually need silence at this age? I can’t say for sure, but he definitely has some self-initiated quiet periods during the day, independent of the times preceding his nap when he is obviously tired. Might silence be as beneficial to him as it is to me?

Of course, I might be totally wrong and he might turn out to be this never-stopping extrovert who can’t live without a continuous current of words, but either way, I concluded that we need to have these periods of silence because Mama can’t live without it. And maybe this will be a lesson about boundaries and human differences as much as about a balance in one’s life and the importance of having “loud” times and “quiet” times.

So once I brought myself to view silence in this light, I stopped feeling guilty. My son and I talk, and talk, and talk, and then we simply stop talking and indulge in silence.

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