Listening

She turned away and said, “My tissue was spitting,” as if I demanded to know why she was wiping her eyes. She was clearly upset, crying.

I was, thinking, “Should I say something? Something profound? Comforting?”

The following is a story that is related to my last post, #MissionMonday.

She is a quiet, but tenacious, thoughtful, and strong girl. She has many things she likes, but mostly keeps those kinds of information to herself. When she likes something, she goes after it. When she knows she has to work on something, she works harder to get better. Although she is excellent in school, she is one of those kids many do not notice. She is the last one to open up and share her  feelings or let others see an emotional side of her.

What was her story?

Funny how things work out sometimes. Only a few hours after I had written my post about #MissionMonday, I was challenged to stop myself from saying the “right thing” while I was listening to this young person. This student just needed me to listen to her. What I heard was that her biggest wound came from another person who did not see her for who she really was. She was not being heard and was ignored. Her spirit was crushed.

I shared just a little. I had to.

She seemed like she was giving up hope. Sometimes, I told her, that life doesn’t always seem fair and can even be horrible. And one “storm-cloudy” person can make a situation unbelievably worse. But giving up something she loves doing now (barely a teenager) because of that person’s ill-effect means that she will never know how she could have grown…all of what she loves will stop where they are now.

I really tried to use very few words (I have a problem being succinct…).

We didn’t have much time afterward. She had to go. I was still feeling like I had to say something more, but wisdom reminded me that silent understanding sometimes is OK. I just smiled at her.

As she was leaving, she sang “Baby, there’s a shark in the water” (chorus of VV Brown’s song, Shark in the Water). She said she might just sing this song to get through next couple of days.

Something tells me, HOPE wins.

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2 thoughts on “Listening

  1. The biggest tool in my toolbox for dealing with children is my ear. Listening is a powerful resource teachers have but don’t often use. Time to listen can be an issue, but if you make the time to use this absolutely free built-in audio-receptive technology almost all of us have, you will realize its power.

    There are so few adults who take children seriously that they really respons to those few of us who do.

    So you see, its not a matter of finding the right thing to say; it is more a matter of making the effort not to say anything.

  2. Thanks, Deven.
    I am amazed by the depths of my students’ thoughts. Their experiences are real and often find that they need more people to listen to them seriously.

    I am learning to just listen…..

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