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Like Riding a Bicycle

Posted on: November 4th, 2012 by bubbyjoysandoys 1 Comment

Enjoyed this? Share it, and attribute it. Copyright 2014, Bubby Joys and Oys, M. Hendeles

I logged onto my email account one night last week, and found the following from my friend, Chani* (name changed to protect the guilty!), from out of state:

Chani: Hi there, Miriam! How are things? I”m babysitting for my 7-month old grand-daughter, and as I write this, she is screaming in the crib. I can’t get her to sleep. Any ideas? Thanks! Chani. P.S. Her parents don’t like it when she cries herself to sleep…

Me: Hi Chani! Why don’t you try holding her and cooing her to sleep? Or better yet, let her cry herself to sleep – after all, it’s your house, right? Oh whatever. I don’t like to give advice. I’m sure you will be fine.

Chani: Well, when I wrote the email before, I half thought she would fall asleep by the time you answered. And guess what! She did. Aren’t we lucky to have this “Bubby” club?

Me: Great! I knew you would figure it out. We always do….

Chani: Yes, those mothering instincts and the special touch come back to us. We never forget how to parent (and grandparent!), just like riding a bicycle. Good night!

And thank G-d for that! Because, when it comes to parenting or grandparenting, I really do not like giving advice to friends, family and even my daughters-in-law (believe it or not!). I’m the kind of person who likes to talk and ramble and figure stuff out myself, and I assume others are similar to me. Whether or not, I’m incorrect about my assumptions, the fact remains that when people share their stuff with me, I try to be a good listener and avoid giving suggestions. Sometimes I err, and find myself giving suggestions, but I am wary of doing so, because how can I know what is the correct path for another person? Each one of us is unique and what may work for me, will not necessarily work for another person.

Recently, a few (not so many, okay?) people have shared with me issues about grandmother-hood and mother-in-law-hood, probably since they know I’ve written a book on that topic. I joke that I have no answers, and that is so true. My book is a collection of stories of how I did things so far, so I’m no more a giver-of-advice than anyone else.

Besides, if I gave the wrong advice, it may cause a ripple effect of issues. And I certainly don’t want to have that on my conscience. For example, the other day someone shared with me how her son-in-law won’t talk to her anymore. He’s mad at her. Now, why she shared with me of all people when I don’t have any sons-in-law to use as precedents, is beyond me. But she did share that information with me.

Now if you’ll notice, I said “shared” with me, not “asked” me. The truth is that most of the time, people do not ask for advice (at least not of me). They share, they talk, they describe, they complain (as I do with others — I’m a big sharer, describer, etc). And what these people want is just to be heard. They don’t want advice. Even if they ask, “what should I do?” they don’t really mean those words. All they want is to be heard, and perhaps to be told that they are doing just fine.

How do I know all this? Because that is how I feel when I share with others. I know deep down I will figure out the issue myself. I may enjoy some feedback from a trusted friend, and I may take that into account when I decide how to proceed with my dilemma, but overall I do not appreciate when others jump in with suggestions of how to fix my problem.

Here’s another exchange between Chani and myself:

Me: Hey Chani, guess what? Our son and daughter-in-law are going out together tonight and leaving the kids with us. I’m okay with the 4 year old, but kind of nervous about the almost-2-year-old. He (the younger one) gets cranky when at my house at nighttime, and has a hard time falling asleep.

I guess Chani knows that by the time she answers, I will have gotten the baby to sleep. And so, I have not received a reply email from her yet.

And she’s right. Both my grandsons fell asleep, (eventually).

We never forget how to do these things. As my friend says, it is just like riding a bike. Get those wheels oiled, and pedal along. It always works out.

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One Response

  1. Chaya Shamie says:

    Great article as someone in the sandwich generation I often feel I am riding a tricycle!!!

    Best Regards,

    Chaya Shamie 323-997-0970

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