A Life Lessons Story
I remember when my 3 kids were teens. They would come home from school and I would ask them:
“How was your day?”
“Fine.” Would be the refrain.
“What happened in school today?”
What did you learn?”
I yearned to be involved in their lives. But I couldn’t get them to share with me.
I had been a school teacher and in the summers I worked as a camp director.
On an afternoon in camp, we had a camper vs. staff softball game. Loving to play in sports, I relished the opportunity to participate. When I was up, I batted that ball way out to the outfield and ran on the dirt surface of the campgrounds as fast as I could, only to slam into the first baseman, banging my foot as I fell to the ground.
The pain was excruciating.
I left camp that day with a broken foot.
Because of the injury, I had to take a sitting position in my house.
I no longer could go like a madwoman all over the house with what Adam, my oldest called “four arms” and whip that house into shape. Here I was confined to the couch with my foot up until further notice.
As I sat there doing nothing, Adam sat in front of me. He told me about an incident he had with some friends that day. He shared with me how he felt about it. After a while as I sat there, he told me some of his concerns with school.
Later, Brett, my youngest son, sat down with me and rambled on about things that were on his mind.
It was so interesting. Here I was in agony, not caring whether my kids shared or not. My foot just hurt too much to care about anything else. And here they were, sharing as I had longed for them to do for so long.
I began to see that if I wanted my kids to open up to me, that asking them questions does not work.
That’s all I have to do is sit still. When I just sit there, their mouths flow like beautiful fountains giving me more information than I could ever even think of asking.
To this day, I have learned the power of sitting silently face to face with each of my children, and with others. I’ve discovered how important it is to just be present and let the other person express what s/he wants.
I felt myself being placed on a magical bridge to where they are at and coming from a place of just understanding, understanding without judging.
Just listening to where he or she is, to what is on his/her mind. I had to forget my own opinions for a short time and get into his or their head.
I learned so much, appreciated so much more of who each of my children really is and I got to understand so much better. Building into my week a specific time to just listen to each child, (adolescent or teen) did wonders.
Our children are out greatest teachers.
It’s a Jewish teaching that there’s a reason why G-d gave us two ears and one mouth. We learn to use our ears twice as much as we use our mouths. In other words, we need to listen twice as much as we speak.
As an observant Jew, we already have a time that is set aside to be different from the rest of the week – the Sabbath. But that is a possibility for all people – setting aside a regular time that you will spend with your child and during that time just listen from a place of understanding without judging.
And isn’t it amazing that the word silent and the word listen have exactly the same letters. How about that!
Copyright © Chana Klein 2017