By PEP Staff Writer
I recently read Kelly Corrigan’s book, Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say. Whether you need to laugh or cry right now, I can’t recommend this book enough; she’s smart, witty, and so relatable. In it, she talks about a parenting strategy that we often recommend at PEP, active listening. She uses the phrase, “tell me more,” and it served me well this week.
Like many, my two college-aged kids are continuing their classes from home online; they’re also working remotely at their respective jobs. This past Monday afternoon, I listened to my youngest as he unloaded about the volume of school work and how inelegantly it was being delivered — with up to five lectures dropping at a time on various platforms. I laid on his bed, listening with empathy and replied, “Tell me more.” This simple question unearthed frustration with multi-channel communication from the professors, stress over midterm exams, a missed quiz, and work colleagues not responding to emails. I’m sure there was a litany of other things that went unmentioned — the girlfriend he hasn’t seen, the absence of dorm life, and any semblance of normalcy.
We brainstormed ideas that included dropping a class, taking at least one course pass-fail, and emailing the professor. I implored him to pick one because while our kids may worry about doing well in school, every parent’s eye should be on the ball, mental health. We talked about the Gap Plan that we first developed as a family two weeks ago. Of the things we listed, sleeping, moving your body, eating well, and limiting the news, exercise had taken a back seat as my kids slogged on. I suggested we go out and kick the soccer ball around. Since then, my kids have texted me daily, “When is soccer?” or “When is street hockey?” I’m right out there — heck who doesn’t need the exercise? With them, I can see them laugh and relax and play; for just a few minutes each day to forget work, school, and the tragedy around us.
p.s. For what it’s worth, he chose to email the professor who gladly postponed his exam until later in the week.
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