Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Quote of the day - I cannot tell you

I wish I could remember how this conversation began. What Melía said captured me so much that I forgot what led to it. Or maybe I didn't really start listening soon enough.

Despite these fresh efforts to tune in to my children and meditate on their words, my listening still kicks in too little and too late.

We'd just pulled into the gym, this time with all three girls and car seats crammed into the back of the Accord. As always, none of the girls was in a rush to jump out.

For a change, neither was I.

Melía had asked me some kind of "Know what?" question, and I was having fun answering this rhetorical by guessing what she was going to say. I threw out a couple bits of random silliness and a couple serious attempts at intuiting what she was getting at.

I was having fun at my own game.

But that was enough, she decided, and told me so:

"No, Daddy. If you are telling me I cannot tell you."

Her reprimand reminded me to do what I already know to do. "Seek first to understand, then to be understood," as I teach my students, in the language of Stephen Covey's Habit 5. Stop operating on what you think people are going to say, and let them say it.

Shut up and listen.

Thanks for the reminder, Melía Grace. I'll try to do that--and sooner next time.

"...O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love."
(From the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi)

1 comment:

toni said...

i heard an expression when i was a teen-ager that i've been quoting since: the only thing worse than being misunderstood is being understood.
but as a parent, i agree with you totally. making the kids feel understood is the biggest tool in my box.