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The Talking Stick

Whether you have one child or ten, every parent knows that (most normal) kids ruthlessly compete for their parents’ attention. Mine begin to shamelessly interrupt each other at the precise moment one of the kids says, “Ma, I gotta tell you something.” This clash-of-the-siblings usually presents itself in the form of trying to out-scream each other. Their collective goal: talk the loudest and win.

For me in particular, this contest has been detrimental not only to my mental health, but traumatic for my lone, ultra-sensitive hearing ear, as it continuously strives to compensate for its partner’s loss in 2006. All captured decibels resound markedly louder than normal, and thereby exaggerate the earth-shattering tones produced by my children’s thriving vocal chords.

Nonetheless, I’m always looking to update my surviving-parenthood repertoire with insights from the sages, creative tricks, or trendy shortcuts---yes, I’m entitled, I have five kids all age ten and under. Fortuitously, in a moment of crisis, I had an epiphany. Invoking the wisdom of the Native Americans, I grabbed a skinny tree branch from the front patio and poof!

And thus was born The Talking Stick.

Writer Craig Chambers defines this tool as “…a respected symbol of organization among tribal people.” It is used to ensure that courtesy is extended to the speaker. Chambers even opines that “…there is no better tool used for effective communication…”

And, after several weeks incorporating this ancient ritual into our modern, harried life, I agree.

It’s a game-changer. No doubt.

Granted, they’re still learning to respect the given powers of this coveted instrument and grant its temporary proprietor uninterrupted talking-rights. They're just starting to take it seriously. It’s an adjustment. For now, their main focus is on their stop-watches, ensuring that nobody, God forbid, remains perched atop the prized soapbox for longer than the stipulated 30 seconds.

But we are noticing a gradual change in the normally-chaotic homeostasis. Our seven-way conversations are slowly transitioning from mayhem to order. S-l-o-w-l-y. And the compounded noise level is decreasing and my ear throbs less.

I guess that means we’re headed in the right direction.

It’s all about trial and error. The key is to keep trying, keep innovating, until something works. Period.

Now, let’s see how much longer this stick will retain its magical powers…

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