Out of the Mouths of Babes - Joanby Miracle Chasers on 05/29/19
I spent a fair amount of time over the last month with my 2-year old grandson and while he is quite verbal, he is often less than completely clear. To catch his meaning, I had to listen, both to the context and to the sounds, piecing together his special language of enunciation and words. With patience I came to understand. All it took was to really listen; his meaning was there all the time for me to hear.
Imagine my surprise then when at a recent library event featuring the journalist and prolific author Tom Friedman, he spoke about his love of, and interest in, people. In fact, he told us he especially loves listening. Not only do you get to learn, but he explained that listening shows an overt sign of respect. In his experience once others know you respect them, they become willing to hear what you have to say, even when your message may be something they don't want to hear. It's no shock that listening is essential to facilitate open communication. It's what we do with children: simple, and yet profound.
A few days later, I had, as Oprah would say, another "Aha" moment. As the only participant at a strength-training class, the hour became far more than an opportunity to exercise my physical self. The instructor had experienced a health crisis with a beloved parent and needed not only to debrief, but to find the space to take a breath. The result of our conversation was to accept that we all need help at different times in our lives. Whether it is to aid with aged parents or to cope with kids or illness or changing circumstances, it doesn't matter. Our natural inclination is to resist thinking we need help. We are reticent to ask for assistance. We try to handle everything on our own and don't want to burden others. And yet, when we are actually allowed to help each other it is a gift. We feel satisfied, worthy and compassionate. To rob others of this experience is a double blow; it's unfair to both you and those who care about you.
This is another of the things children teach us. When kids look up with eyes wide and pleading, it takes only one word, "Help," or perhaps it's just an outstretched hand. We know what it means. It is a call to action. We do what we can to respond to their plea. Either we "fix" it ourselves or figure out how to make the situation right. In doing so we feel happiness alongside satisfaction, self-worth and compassion. It brings joy to our heart and fulfillment to our soul.
There is one other word that anyone who has been around a 2-year old knows well. It's the ability to say "No" without worry of losing love, or respect or one's place in the universe. It's direct and conveys exactly how they are feeling. And we love them just the same. Yes, out of the mouths of babes comes the honesty and the tools we need every day to survive. All we have to do is to listen, ask for help and learn when it's best to say no. (Joan)