One of the things I learned as a student of early childhood education is that children will tune you out if you ramble.
When you are first learning to speak in short, precise, positive sentences it is like learning another language. I learned the language. After so many years of practice, I am, in fact, fluent.
So why do I forget this when I am talking to Captain Alpha these days?
I go on and on and on and on. And on.
Lecture, lecture, lecture
I even throw in a ‘when I was young’ story or two.
I think I am having a conversation, but really I am just talking at him.
I have become the teacher from Charlie Brown.
The other morning we were driving on our way to school. I was talking to him about being a good friend. I talked about being the difference between being friendly with everyone vs. being friends. I brought up being positive and encouraging to others.
Blah, blah, lecture, blah
Then I paraphrased one of my favourite quotes for my closing remarks:
“That was said by a very wise person,” I told him.
“… by a girl who talks too much.” There was a smile in his voice.
And no, he wasn’t referring to Ms. Angelou.
You know that moment when the truth hits you? It looks you straight in the eye and stares you down? The air stills and the silence is deepened by that breath you’re holding? I saw the truth in front of me that morning, as plain as the road in front of me.
I think it’s because he is getting older, more mature, more conversational. I forget myself and just talk. And talk.
It may start out as an equal exchange of ideas. But I think lately I have been tipping the balance in favour of teaching, professing, pontificating. And if I am doing all that, I certainly don’t have time to listen.
And that makes me sad. When I think of it, there is an ache in my heart, because I realize that I am missing out.
I am not leaving myself open to his thoughts, his questions, and his clever observations.
Because I am doing all the talking.
I am going to take his observation and ease the ache in my heart. And Ms. Angelou’s words, that I have always loved, have new meaning for me now.
He may not remember all I say, but he will likely remember that his mother listened to him and valued him.
And that she let him talk sometimes, too.