After twenty years of living with teens, you’d think I’d have learned this amazing truth sooner. But nope. I think it took having my own teens, living day in and day out with my own teen children to make this discovery.
It’s a doozy though. A true game changer, and every time I share it, I see the light bulb go on for other moms.
It all began with my own daughter. I would encourage my daughter to try something new. I would offer her words of praise or love, would tell her that she was smart, or capable, or beautiful. And then I would get the inevitable.
The eye roll.
I swear it’s contagious. After all, as you were reading this, and just read that last sentence, did you just roll your eyes at the eye roll? Ugh. I did. It’s worse than a yawn!
Anyway, the dreaded eye roll. It would drive me nuts. What the heck is that? Who does she think she’s rolling those eyes at? Does she think I just fell off the turnip truck? And what does that expression even mean?
Whatever. It drove me nuts. Then I began noticing it with the girls in my dorm. The more I’d offer words of praise or encourage them to open up to me, I’d get an eye roll. Hold them accountable? Eye roll. Try to build them up or compliment them? Eye roll, eye roll, eye roll. I was close to the tipping point.
And then it hit me.
Sure my daughter would roll her eyes, but often she’d follow it with a hidden smile. Or yeah, the girls in the dorm would roll their eyes when I asked them to make themselves a valentine, but then they’d do it, and they’d laugh together and share their valentines with each other. And maybe I’d get an eye roll when I encouraged them to take a risk or be brave or told them they were exceptional, but it meant something.
You know what that eye roll is?
That eye roll is EVIDENCE THAT SHE HEARD ME!
If my daughter was ignoring me, there’d be no eye roll. If the girls in my dorm weren’t listening to me, they’d have no reason to roll those snarky little eyes at me. Those eye rolls were proof that they had heard me.
That was the game changer for me.
Now I look for the eye roll. I welcome it. I still want to eye roll her right back or give her some snarky response about a turnip truck (Really! What the heck does it mean?), but I smile to myself. She has no idea. No idea that I secretly love that eye roll.