That song that goes;
"Words, 'cos words are all I have.."
It's not true.
I've come more and more in fostering to use silences.
Not say anything. It's not easy.
All day long you feel you have to say something, but if someone wrote the things down it'd sound like a litany of negativeness:
"Don't walk in here in your shoes."
"Take your bag upstairs don't just leave it there."
"Leave your phone in the hall like we agreed".
"Bring down your lunch box so I can do it for tomorrow".
"Why didn't you eat all the apple?"
And...the worst, stupidest question we can ask, but I used to, day after day:
"Did you have a nice day at school?"
Oh sure we spout a lot of positives too, but a looked-after child can hear a negative in anything.
Some time way back, I learned to keep the trap shut unless called for. Not easy. The urge to speak to a fellow human being the moment they appear each morning or come in after a day at school is huge. It seems friendly - but look at what it turns into.
If children want to talk, they are best served by waiting until they say something. They're sleepy in the morning, knackered after a day of book learning. We can easily start to sound like naggy teachers.
We went on holiday with another family once, he was a primary school teacher. Every morning he would say things to his kids such as 'Have you combed your hair this morning?' Cripes, it was supposed to be a holiday, but he couldn't kick the habit of being on everyone's case.
Nowadays I don't say a perky "Did you sleep well?' or "What would you like for breakfast?"
I say a cursory "Mornin'" and plonk brekky in front of them.
But there are more important silences.
Do you remember, if you've ever been lucky enough to fall in love, how you reached a level of intimacy where silence between you was a bond. Well I try to use the same gesture of the unspoken bond. The car is a good place for it. I drive them to and from school without my yak yak yak like I used to keep up.
I realised that sometimes I was talking to them because it was what I wanted. Maybe even what I needed. Sometimes you can be at home all day with nothing but the radio and when someone (anyone) materialises it's tempting to chat. But not necessarily what they want.
Now I bite my lip if they come in with scuffed or muddy school shoes, I clean 'em up without a word.
But if they remember to bring the empty crisp packet down I say;
"Ta for that." Nothing more, no big deal.
I try to talk when and where is right, not because I need to.
I don't go hunting for conversation.
Or fishing for happiness or smiles, if they come they come.
There was that other song; "Silence is golden..."