The Most Important Lesson I Learned Standing Next to Potatoes

First, in case anyone noticed, I changed my authorship name to “The 2 - Minute Parent” from “The Overtaxed Parent” for a couple of reasons. First, TOP seemed a bit negative, and I’m not looking to be negative. Second, I want anything I write to be read in about 2 minutes. I only intend to write about one idea at a time, so if I can’t do that in 2 minutes, then I need to work on it more. That being said, this paragraph doesn’t count toward my 2 minutes…

Start the timer now… During college, I worked in the produce department of a grocery store. I was far from marriage and parenthood. That was like, Aisle 1000. In fact, I hadn’t even started dating my wife. I was at the potato bin, stacking potatoes when I overheard a young child talking to her dad, who looked exhausted.

She talked the whole time they were near me. Finally, I he said, “Can you just be quiet for a few minutes?” That stopped her.

Another customer was standing next to me and as soon as the they were gone, she said, “How will he ever expect her to talk later, if he doesn’t let her talk now?”

<mic drop>

I don’t know what it was about that moment, but it stuck with me permanently. It made so much sense to even a kid without a kid.

Since then, once both girls began talking, I’ve listened knowing the teenage years were coming fast. I haven’t been perfect, but I’m pretty sure I’m batting a .950 on at least listening. But …

It hasn’t been easy. My, God! The things they want to talk about.

Listening to kid drama, pre-teen drama, teen drama, “learning” about things I already know, things I don’t want to know, Justin Bieber this . . ., Taylor Swift that . . . it’s endless.

I even came up with a trick for when I’m really too tired to listen anymore. Shhh. I listen for the first minute and tuck into my head something to refer back to later. For example, she’s talking, “You wouldn’t believe my day today, In Mr. Smith’s class . . . blah blah blah…” I now listen for code words (drugs, booze, pregnant) and patiently wait while thinking about other things. Then, when she’s done, I say, “Wait, Mr. Smith is your biology teacher, right?” And we continue on talking. This may sound cruel, but sanity is not over-rated. [Genius!]

Has this worked? So far, I think so. My oldest daughter is living the teen issues (boys, eating, boys, school, boys) and we have had to have some serious and awkward conversations, already. But, every time I’ve brought touchy topics, we have had great conversations.

I wish I knew who that lady was at my potato bin, but I’d love to say “Thanks.”

And… thank you for reading.