on learning and listening

We had a couple warm days earlier this week, and spent late afternoons at the elementary school playground.  There, Tuck became friends with a few kids in that ferociously urgent way that kids do, say, at summer camp.  In the same way that he wears his underwear on his head no matter who's over, because everyone is family when you're five.

He has no time to mince words or waste moments.  At five, he has an efficiency that feels refreshing, a brusqueness that does not usually bother.  In the span of the pre-dinner hour, aside from swinging and running and kicking a ball, he shared his graham crackers and arranged playdates and was invited to a birthday party.  There were tussles and break-ups, mean words and make-ups, but mostly resiliency and flexibility and high fives.

When I pray about Tucker's future, I often begin with something like Please let him find friends, and please help him be a friend.
I could learn about friendship from him.
Tucker is way more emotionally intelligent than me.  When he is upset and I fail to meet him with empathy, instead trying to talk him out of his sad feelings, he explains that my mistaken method only serves to make him sadder.

I think I need to do less talking and more leaning in, waiting quietly.

At church on Sunday we talked about the importance of demonstrating our availability to listen, to slow down and to stop whatever we're doing and talk to our children now, investing in their future willingness to talk.  I imagine someday Tucker will feel rejected by peers or will fight bitterly with a friend, someday he'll go through serious social upsets, and when his problems and his reluctance to talk about them are greater, I want him to know that I'll listen.

On the walk home, Tuck talked about his new friends, about the way Zach shared his football and the way Toby shared his chalk, about the hiding place Silas helped him find under the slide.  Tuck talked, and I listened, and although I've often thought I could not love him more, in the listening I felt my heart open even wider still.


Christy said...


Poppy John said...

Jenni Baby,

Why do 2 out of 3 of your pictures make it look as though Tucker is in jail?

I'm okay with the underwear on the head picture...I do that while making new friends, too.