I think it’s a great skill to be able to mirror, reflect back, and participate in the conversation. My verbal abilities have gotten me this far in life, and I think I’m good at listening to and talking with the kids. But sometimes I really need to shut up.

This thought first came to me on an early outing, before they lived with us. She was calling out each palm tree she saw (we’d taught her what one was) and he was emitting that charming monkey chatter, and I heard myself responding to every single tiny thing either of them said. Too much, I realized. Too, too much.

Not only did Jay get no opportunity to answer questions or get involved, but the kids didn’t need it either. They were happy cataloging what they saw. Just letting the words hang in the air, enjoying them, was plenty right then.

Similarly, in this damn French parenting we keep saying we want to be doing, there’s a high value on not getting involved until the kids need it. Letting them play by themselves, until they run out of ideas, rather than inserting oneself as a necessary part of every game and event. It gives them more power.

All we have to do is look to our pets for a very powerful example of how you can be very very present and engaged without a lot of blah-blah.

My need to oververbalize, of course, is located very close to my self-important belief that the whole world would be better off doing exactly what I think it should do. While obviously true, it has the unfortunate additional quality of being impossible.

My yoga teacher (also David) sometimes says “if there’s anything about that pose that didn’t go as you wanted, now’s the chance to let that go. Just set it down. And feel free to apply that to your whole life so far.” It always startles me to hear that, because it seems so absurd and impossible, then seems so seductively powerful. If only I could do it.

There’s something wonderful about those brief moments where I’m in the world as it is right now, without carrying this tragic,¬†megalomaniacal agenda about what’s the matter with everybody and everything. Imperfect as things may seem, it’s a pretty great place we live, and I feel so much better when I enjoy it as fully as I can.