So much to share.
So much to say.
The time and the space and the freedom to do so.
Once children discover the gift of speech their world changes. Our world changes. At least for a while. They want to share everything. And we let them. Because they can. And it is exciting, amazing and magnificent all at once. It was just yesterday that we could only wonder what went on inside those beautiful heads of theirs’.
Now, all of a sudden we have a glimpse. So we want to hear everything. No matter the rhyme or reason. Whatever comes out of their mouths is glorious. Whatever they put down on paper is stupendous. Whatever they express is worthy of praise.
But after a while something begins to happen. We begin to listen a little less and talk a little more. And they notice. And gradually. Bit by bit. Our access to their world is diminished. Not because they want it that way. Oh no. They have tried. And have been trying. Remember when they tried to tell you the name of their favorite Skylander Action Figure? Or Taylor Swift’s new crush?
No? That’s because we’ve allowed it to become white noise. We nod and say that’s nice honey and pretend like we are listening. But we know we aren’t. More importantly they know. They remember the day when a simple utterance got our attention. And now. Now, when they really have something to tell us. We are not listening.
Why? Because we are still convinced that we are the ones teaching them. Really? This morning my three-year old son begged me to play Angry Birds with him on my iPad. I haven’t a clue how to play this game.
But my son does. I tell him this. He must know. Every time I am the one working the controls we fail. On the other hand, when he is in control, we advance. Yet, when I get up to go do something else, my son gets upset.
Daddy I need you!
Why does he need me? He is the one that is able to navigate the game. Not me.
Maybe he feels more comfortable with me there.
Maybe I do play a role.
Maybe my three-year old is looking out for me.
He still says we when he advances to the next level.
I am still a part of his narrative.
But for how much longer?
As they get older our children are keenly aware of the fact that they have less and less control of the narrative. Of their narrative. We tell them what to read. What to write. And how to think. The list grows as they do.
What use to be a well of free-flowing thoughts, ideas and expressions is slowly drying up. Children have begun to realize that they are no longer invited to the dance. They have become the stepchildren that must stay behind. While others are invited to attend the gallant affair.
But every once in a while they get a glimpse. Of what it’s like. To have a voice. To re-enter the narrative they once were a part of. And they like what they see. A child prodigy here, a YouTube sensation there.
So they take a chance. And head out. Not knowing what to expect. But knowing that they can no longer sit idly by and watch while others twirl.
Aware of the fact that their window of opportunity is small. But the chance to dress up again. If just for one night. That is what they have been waiting for. To be heard once again. To be seen once again. It’s been so long.
Uncertain of what to expect once they arrive. They quietly enter the room. Never intending to take the spotlight.
But when they enter something magical happens. Those in attendance suddenly begin to remember what it was they had so easily forgotten. That it was a child’s voice that use to lift them up. That it was a child’s voice that could teach them more about themselves than they would’ve ever thought possible.
The knowledge just waiting to be set free.
Can you hear that?
You may not have heard it in while. But you never forgot what it sounded like.
Unicorns and fairies. Action figures and doll houses.
They didn’t go anywhere. They never left.
But this tale has a happy ending.
Glass slippers are being found everywhere.
And they fit!
We must start listening again. Our children are ready to dance.
“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
* This piece was inspired by Brad Gustafson’s #3oSecondTake topic which was to come up with the Greatest Cinderella Story That Has Yet To Be Told In Education. The title was also Brad’s idea. He gave me the idea without even having read this piece. This guy just has a 6th sense.