Why is it so hard listening to a child?

Bird Droppings July 17, 2014
Why is it so hard listening to a child?

Sitting here by myself writing before the sunrises and reminiscing I recall listening to some children. It has been some time since I was sitting in my class room on C-Hall when a friend came by with her baby brother about six weeks old at the time. There is something about newborns that is so special I use the term a sponge absorbing everything that happens around them. She left and another group of folks came by and with this group a small child maybe five or six with them. Looking into my room which at that time had a few more critters in it he saw my snakes moving and said he was afraid of snakes. Curiosity soon came over him and he came inside the door as did his mother and sister. The little boy’s mother was drawn to a feather on my desk and soon an hour long discussion ensued.

The interesting part and for me intriguing was each few minutes the little boy would ask a question. I answered many but soon he was interrupting my talk on Native Americans and feathers and I was trying to avoid his questions as I do like to talk. Today as I sit writing listening to Carlos Nakai and watching the sun come up listening to the sounds of the incoming morning it hit me how often we turn our ears away from children when it is them who we should be listening to. I am saddened I did not take the time with that small child and listen more intently rather than discuss with the adults present. Perhaps it is in old age I have learned to sometimes listen rather than talk. It is a special listening of the heart and head when we talk with children.

“Head and heart listening requires that we attend to more than mere words. To understand the full meaning of what a child is saying to us, we have to “listen” to tone, inflection, feelings, and body language. By truly listening, we are saying to our children: ‘You are a person of worth. I love you, respect you, and want to understand you.’ Unfortunately, we are often so eager to get our own point across that we interrupt our children with our own ideas and don’t pay enough attention to their thoughts and feelings.” Stephen F. Duncan, Professor, School of Family Life, Brigham Young University

Who and where do we find answers from, I think more often than not from children. We tend to know what is right to do, to learn, to teach and we do it but as I listened to this child so many days ago filled with questions I was too busy to answer and sadly we do this every day. My mother called me yesterday and we were talking about my little nephew. He occasionally talks to pop-pop, my father who passed away a little over a seven years ago. He really never knew him as he is only about eight years old. We so often put aside little children questions, thoughts and dreams and leave them with little more than our own.

“What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook.” Henry David Thoreau

Yesterday as I finished my day I sat and was thinking about various forms of curriculum and education and as I was reading and jotting notes this Thoreau passage came back. So often we want to simply make everyone like us. Embrace the questions; listen to the words, the thoughts, and emotions. Borrowing from a line I used yesterday let us approach education One Child at a Time. We can learn so much from children. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)

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