Do you stop and look at your kids? Do you stand still to examine, admire, and observe something they have done? Or do you grab a camera, snap a picture, and upload it to Facebook?
Today’s wisdom was never uttered to me. It was observed. My grandfather died of cancer when I was fourteen. I remember his big, rough hands, his pure white hair, and his gentle demeanor. As child he appeared to be a true gentle giant.
|Image from Charles Schultz, Peanuts creator.|
I took piano lessons for almost seven years as a kid. I have no musical talent even after all those lessons. I can’t hear when a song changes key, and I can’t clap to the beat. But for seven years I went to lessons, practiced minimally (always thinking I had the teacher fooled) and learned some basics of music.
Growing up, our piano was in our formal living room–the room we never sat in. If my grandpa was visiting and I was practicing piano, he would sneak in the room while I practiced. Often I did not know he was there until I was done. And he would sit on the couch, head back, hands folded, eyes closed and he would listen. And relax. He never fell asleep or left before I was done. He didn’t extend verbal praises.
And I would glow inside because someone stopped and listened to something I did. More than listen, he stopped and soaked it in. Something I did was worth paying attention to.
I was never deceived by grandfather into thinking my music was praiseworthy. But I knew I was special to my grandfather. So I try to stop and really listen to Bird play the guitar or I ask Bug about a painting from school, about the colors, and the decisions she made in creating it. And everyday I try to stop and see what my children are doing. I try, with many failures, to avoid the perfunctory, “Good job” we all utter to our kids when we are busy or distracted.
We can’t always stop, watch, and listen. Life is full of fires to face, fight, and douse. But when you are so busy you can’t think straight, your child is feeling the absence of your presence. You can ease the loss by stopping, looking at your kids, watching and listening. They need to know they are still special to you.