Last night, as I was putting my son to bed, we began talking about school and focusing on the week ahead. We talked about the importance of listening to his teacher and what good work looks like. I expressed my concern at his rushing through his work and making careless mistakes, all in an effort to finish as quickly as possible. As we talked, he began to tell me he was making mistakes because he couldn't remember what she was saying. He said that maybe, just maybe, he was a little like Dory in Finding Nemo. Tears filled his little eyes as he was telling me this and I could see and hear that something was bothering him.
I gracefully turned the conversation to dinosaurs and asked him what the name of the one with the long neck was. He answered and began to explain all the extraordinary things about this particular dinosaur. I then asked about the ones with the fin-like things on their backs. He paused, scratched his chin and responded with excitement. He again filled me in on all the important details. I asked him which dinosaur flies and he quickly told me. With all that information, I lay on his bed, his head cradled comfortably in my arm, and began to tell him how wise he was and how amazed I was at how much was stored in his mind.
I turned to sharks, knowing this was another keen interest of his. I asked about the hammerhead, the nurse and of course the great white. He was full of details including weight, length, eating habits, rituals, etc. He knew everything there was to know about sharks. Again, I lay marvelling at the mind of a young boy and the level of excitement as he shared his knowledge.
We lay quietly for a while and eventually he turned his little head in my direction and said, "I know what you've just done mum. You've showed me that I can remember, that I'm not like Dory, that if I get as interested in what my teacher is telling me as I am about dinosaurs and sharks, I'll get all the answers right." To this I simply responded with a hug and whispered gently in his ear, "My darling son, you are a wise, wise boy and you know so many things. I can't wait to see what you will do this week and how you will learn and remember. I think you're an amazing person and I love you."
As parents we need to LISTEN to our children and by that I mean truly listen. We need to take time to slow down, stop the noise and allow our children to be vulnerable with us. In these moments we need to allow creativity, kindness and gentleness to ooze out of us. Creativity because we need to discover ways to communicate so that they will understand. Kindness and gentleness because they are essential ingredients to great parenting.
Susan J Sohn xo