Thursday, August 30, 2007

Listening Skills

Do people really even listen? I was in the checkout line at the grocery store, and the store manager walked by our bagger. As he walked, he asked the bagger, "How are you?" The bagger replied, "Not that good." The manager brightly said, "That's great!" and kept on walking. Did the manager even hear what the bagger said? Was this some kind of joke I missed? It made me start wondering about listening to people and really hearing what they say. I am often asked, "How is Clare?" We went to a barbecue in honor of our former pastor a couple weeks ago. Since we no longer attend this church, it had been months since we had seen many of these people. The "Clare question" came up frequently. A couple weekends ago, we were at a birthday party and, again, I heard many people ask, "How is Clare?" Sometimes I am at a loss for what to say. What do people really want to know?

I have my short answer of, "Clare's doing great. She started walking and is so thrilled to be mobile." That is usually enough to satisfy most people's question on the status of Clare. But there are many times, when I am attempted to say, "Clare's not really doing that well. She has started walking, which is so exciting, but her heart is giving her trouble. We notice she is very tired most of the day. Her fatigue causes her to be more sensitive and easily frustrated, so we deal with many temper tantrums. Especially over eating. Mealtimes are a battle with Clare. Her heart is working so hard that even going outside on a hot day is a disaster. Which is hard on the rest of the family because it makes summer outings that much more difficult. And that's been tough with Jamie, who loves to be outside and wants to go to the playground and swim in his pool around the clock. So every day is a battle of conscience for me. Make Clare miserable for 30 minutes so Jamie can have his bit of sunshine, but then keep Jamie cooped up in the house for the rest of the day, so Clare does not go into cardiac arrest. The cardiologist made us so scared about keeping Clare out on a hot summer day, that we have forgone the rest of our summer activities - no beach, zoo, parks. Thankfully fall and the cooler weather is in the near future as well as Clare's catheterization in two weeks. We will be glad to have all that behind us. But, I guess, Clare is doing okay."

I just feel incredibly selfish and rude if I burden other people with our worries about Clare. There are many people who do share our worry and pain (mainly our family), and I already hate casting that shadow over their lives. I know people truly do care about Clare and our family, and that is why they ask the question. Yet how much do they really want to know? I think I need to revise my short answer to something like this, "Clare is hanging in there and making progress, but she could still really use your prayers."


camille said...

I understand what you mean about telling people how Claire is doing. I feel the same way about Connor, I want to say he's great, he's walking around well, babbling more, seeming to start understanding somethings...but am at the same time battling the reality that he's not talking, doesn't understand very much, and has a lot of sensory issues. It's definitely a hard balance trying to figure out how to tell the truth without sounding depressed or without sounding like you're in denial.

Nicole said...

I think you are right, people don't really listen and they just want to hear the good stuff. Actually, people just don't know exactly what to say if given such heavy information. I'm so sorry that you have to put on a brave happy front every time that question is asked when obviously you have so many worries filling your mind and heart.

Please know that sweet little girl of yours and your whole family is in our prayers.

Thanks also for the advice on the Gym classes for Emerson. When I got away from the emotionalness of it all, of course it makes sense to put her in the class that is going to be the most beneficial for her. The class is for her, not for me. I'll keep you posted. Hope you guys have a great Labor Day Weekend!

Every minute counts.... said...

I too have the balance problems when it comes to an answer. I get the "Abi looks great now that her heart is fixed"...fixed?!? I want to's not fixed it just is pumping and keeping her going it is by no means..FIXED! but...very seldom do I ever go that far I just say " She's doing the best she can."
Hard to always hold your tongue when sometimes you just want to a day in my life and you will see that what you just asked really can't be answered with a short sentance.
I am looking forward to cooler weather for all of us! I am thinking of your family often. My heart is with you in your journey to the cath lab!


nichole said...

People don't listen - I know I am guilty of it when I try to do too many things at once. I feel bad for my secretary when that happens. She knows me a little better now and lets me know when she needs my undivided attention. Personally, I like the last short answer, especially for people who know Clare, but don't see her (or read about her) on a consistent basis.

Is it almost fall yet? I can't tell, I haven't felt anything less than 85 degrees in weeks and it looks to go on for weeks as well.

Clare (and the rest of you too) are in my prayers every night; especially now with her cath coming up. Jamie must be so excited about school starting soon. I miss those days of waiting for the first day of school and shopping for school supplies. Despite being relegated to house, I hope that you all get to enjoy the rest of the summertime before the school routine starts. Miss you all!!!


Anonymous said...

What a difficult question/dilema you are faced with daily! I think you have to answer on an individual basis. Grandma Ruegg used to say "people don't really want to know HOW you are doing, they are just being friendly". I never believed this completely, and you probably need to weigh the situations. I know there are a great many people who truly DO want to know how she/you are doing, but sometimes it is just a greeting, too. Know that we who read this DO want to know the good as well as the bad. For me, it makes me feel that I am part of & share your trials. Know, too, that you all are in my every Prayer! Love to all of you, Aunt Joan

Kerry said...

Ain't it the truth... and your persepctive is so different now too I am sure. I am very good at the cheesy smile and "Great! He's doing great!" So much easier for people who only have 2 minutes alotted time for your answer.

Yeah... no issues over here! :)

Laura said...

People don't really listen, and those who just ask in passing really don't want to hear the truth of how our kids are doing. I try not to say too much to the general public who may ask.
You all are in our thoughts for Clare's upcoming cath.

Nancy said...

I'm with Aunt Joan -- it depends on who is asking. I like your short answer about her making progress but needing prayers, as it may or may not spark further questions, and then you will know if they really wanted to know or not. You are such a smart cookie, and I learn so much from you.

Anonymous said...

You know, it's true about how people sometimes don't listen, or maybe feel they should ask. As for the family and burdening us...never. If family can't share your pain, fears, sorrows, and joys who can? As Mom says "That's what families do", and who can argue with Mom. lol
Love ya guys,
Auntie Becky

Amy said...

I care and am listening and feel your burden, thank you for sharing. I appreciate it more than you can know, some how it makes me feel less alone to know you deal with similar struggles. I am not happy it is this way and you have these miserable challenges, all I can say is I share them and hopefully it will work itself out. Call me or email me if you want feeding tips(: This is awful, but what works for Avery on those cranky days is turning on Sesame Street while she eats. She just shovels in the food, and watches the tv, barely noticing what she is inhaling. lol.