I got an interesting email from a friend today. She has two sons, the youngest of which is four. My peanut loves playing with her munchkin and since she lives down the street, we sit swap for each other for occasional weekday appointments and meetings. Between sits and running into each other at the neighborhood playground, the boys are together a fair amount.
I picked him up from her house after an appointment last week and ended up chatting for quite awhile, which probably consisted of me complaining a lot about this half-age phase we’re in of not listening, not napping and me not getting very far.
So, today, I got an email. An email titled “Unsolicited Advice.” And it was the best email ever. Full of advice and real-life experience of dealing with this contrary phase and how she continues to use a particular technique even now with her oldest. I really appreciated the fact that she not only listened to me, but maybe realized I was searching for answers that just haven’t been coming naturally. I also appreciated the fact that she took a risk by saying, you know what, I was thinking about you and just couldn’t not share this tidbit that worked for me with you.
It got me thinking about unsolicited advice, because I never received as much as when I got pregnant with peanut. Advice on what to eat. What not to eat. What to wear. What tests to get. Where to shop. What to name him. What not to name him. What sleep books to use. What sleep books not to use. How much clothes he should have on or off at any given temperature. And the list goes on and on and on and on.
Quite honestly, I listened to it all. I didn’t like it all. I didn’t follow it all. But there were a lot of gems in that white noise of advice-giving. Gems I was thankful to have. Gems I am just as guilty of passing on unsolicited to girlfriends who are pregnant or dealing with infant problems I struggled with, too.
I remember being taught never to turn down a breath mint or a piece of gum (cause you never know why the offerer is really offering…ahem). I look at advice the same way – never turn it away, never turn it down, because you never know what the offerer sees that you need that you might not be able to see (or sniff) yet.
Again, it’s not all worthwhile. A lot of it can be totally laughable for your particular kid. But then, one day, you open up Gmail and have a gem of a personal story with real workable tactics for your exact situation.
And that’s not unsolicited advice, that’s a gift.