hula karaA couple of weeks ago I wrote about a job change. As excited as I was about the move, apparently the same enthusiasm didn’t spill over to other members of my household–specifically, to my daughter. I had never done such a thing in her lifetime; I should have known she would naturally be apprehensive.

To mitigate some of her fear of the unknown, I took her with me to lunch with my new boss as I prepped for my first day. I wanted her to own a part of the process, and I also wanted to put a human face on my new company. I figured she’d ask a bunch of questions and offer up her usual charming self. Not so. My normally gregarious child sat silently, with her eyes affixed to her plate the whole time.

Her sudden-onset, pre-teen shyness did not, however, indicate a lack of engagement, as I soon found out. On the ride home, I asked for her feedback about the meeting and my new company. Her comments took me completely by surprise.

Mom, you say mmm hmm a lot. Too much.

Excuse me?

That’s what she took from the conversation? I heard her out and moved on–or I thought I did. Darn it if every subsequent mmm hmm didn’t reverberate in my head like a bad piano chord over the next four days. Last night, I decided to revisit the topic with my lovely girlio.

What am I supposed to do? I asked. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but now that you’ve called my attention to it, I hear myself saying it all the time. Is it bad?

No standard twelve-year-old answer for this girl. She nailed it.

Mom! Of course you need to acknowledge what people are saying, but what’s wrong with WORDS? Say ‘I understand’ or ‘I can see what you mean.’ Say something like that instead of mmm hmm all the time. You’ll sound much more engaged!

She is so right and I’m proud of her.

Inspiration can come from any direction, even from the mouths of babes.