Sometimes it's more important than you think to actually understand what your kids are saying.
But sometimes understanding that one word makes all the difference in the story. For example, a few nights ago Preston was telling me about his day. I'm actually not exaggerating when I say that he started into this section of his stories after 40-45 minutes of near non-stop talking. I may be exaggerating to say he hadn't paused to take a breath (let alone let his siblings speak) for that entire time. But I'm not exaggerating by much. Preston is quite the talker. So, especially since I was also trying to fix dinner at the time, I think I can be forgiven for not being entirely focused on the conversation.
"And then we were all running around the playground and we were trying to kick each other in the Crocs. And sometimes somebody would get kicked in the Crocs and they would trip and fall down. And one time I got kicked in the Crocs and it hurt and I fell down but then I got up again and I chased **** and kicked him in the Crocs so it was okay. And then later I was sliding on the pole and I jumped on the pole and I banged my Crocs on the pole but it didn't even hurt so I laughed. And then another time **** told us about a movie he watched and this guy was really stupid and he poured oil on his Crocs and then he lit the oil on fire! But his Crocs didn't even burn up and it was okay. But I don't think I would want to have my Crocs be on fire. Why is it called a Crocs, anyway? Just like the shoes? I think that's really weird."
So as I'm listening to this conversation I'm adding little interjections here and there to show I'm listening. "Um-hmm. ... Really? ... I'm glad you were okay - maybe next time you should find a game where you don't kick each other. ... That's good, you have to be a little careful on the pole sometimes. ... Wow, that doesn't sound like a good choice! What a waste of his shoes. ... Wait - what? What's just like the shoes? Aren't we talking about the shoes?"
*heavy sigh * eyeroll * "NO, Mom. Your Crocs... you know... down here?" *gestures below the belt like Vanna White in an anatomy class* "Crocs... the penis spot!"
The what now? Oooooh... not Crocs. Crotch. Suddenly the whole previous conversation has a very different slant. Not only were the boys running around tripping each other, but they were kicking each other in the crotch to do it. And then discussing some idiot who decided to set his crotch on fire. (I can only assume this is some movie like JackAss? And who is letting their first-grader watch that? It's just a recipe for disaster... old enough to watch, think it's funny, and decide to replicate it. Not old enough to have any filter or thought about consequences of repeating a stupid stunt. Yikes.)
Follow up with discussion on correct pronunciation of the word, good and not-so-good things to do with your crotch (good: use the bathroom, keep private; not-so-good: kick, light on fire), the best way to interact with other people's crotches (which is to say, not at all, especially not at school), and how people in movies don't always make good choices and that's why we shouldn't do the things we see on TV or movies without talking to Mom or Dad about it first. (And we especially shouldn't do anything like that at the sleepover coming up on Saturday with the other boys from the crotch-kicking game and are we sure we really understand that point?)
*Whew* That was exhausting. And at the same time... hee-hee. Worth a giggle. :)