Thursday, April 30, 2015

Listen to Children

I've been gimping around with bursitis in my knee from a hard spill I took last month.  Last week I went for a physical therapy appointment to get some strengthening exercises.

As the greeter at the PT clinic led me to the exam room, he made quick pleasantries and then said this:
"I'm trying something new this year. When folks come in for their initial visit,  I am asking this question:
If you were to pass on one piece of advice about anything in life, what would you pass on?"

My mind was on my stiff, sore knee...far away from any truisms I'd learned in my 65 years of living.

But as my exam room wasn't even close to the front desk - past three hallways and at the end of a fourth...and as this greeter guy wasn't going to fill the silent space, I had a few minutes to think - especially as my limp kept the pace slow.   Still, I remained stumped.

Once he (who I now know as Seth and who has collected over four pages full of responses so far) had deposited me in the exam room,  I turned and looked at him.  He waited.  His face said, 
"You can't pass."

And suddenly, I heard myself say, LISTEN TO CHILDREN!

He blinked. 
So did I. 
Then he pursed his lips, mumbled Hmmm, paused for what seemed a long few seconds,  and replied,
"No one has ever said that before."

And now I'm the one doing the  Ever since that appointment.  Wondering why I said that.
 It's a fact that I love children and youth --- they feed me.  Why else would I teach for 35 years? But for that to be my answer?  Not something about Love or Family or Giving or God?

The one piece of advice about anything in life that I want to pass on is LISTEN TO CHILDREN?

I do know this .... those words came from deep inside me.

And when that happens, I know they are worth wondering about ....
so here goes....

Why don't more of us do it better and more often or at all?

Do we adults believe that only experience can teach and because children lack a wide breadth of experience, we have little to learn from them?

Is it because sometimes children struggle to be articulate or to find the right words?

Does it take too much time out of our packed-with-important-things day to be fully present and focused so we can really listen to kids?

Do we think they will be uncomfortable?    Or we will be?
Or do we simply think we don't  know what to talk about with young people?

Or is it this?   That on some level we know that young people have a finely tuned and highly sophisticated crap-detector and if we are not fully present or we have an agenda other than theirs on our mind, they sniff us out in a nano-second!
 And that can make us uncomfortable, or cause us to run out of things to say, or thwart those all important exchanges from the get-go.

I am wondering about all of this.

But there are two things I think I know for sure after this bit of reflection and wondering:
    Number One ....Seth gave me his own version of a strengthening exercise last week.
    Number Two .... Listen to Children is about Love and Family and Giving and God, after all.

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