August 18, 2012
On Monday, after all the chaos of the preceding 24 hours, I gave you my full attention for 15 minutes while I listened to you talk. But I didn’t tell you that I was doing this. I simply asked you to tell me how you were feeling. You didn’t need coaxing, but really let loose, which was a change from day 41.
You spilled your guts about our experience in the ER and at the dentist, how you were feeling, how you felt bad for our daughter, how we both learned much from her calm reaction to the situation, how you were glad we had doctors we could trust and good insurance, how you weren’t sure how to deal with our daughter’s change of appearance, how you weren’t sure how she would deal with it, how you were concerned about the way other kids would react to her, etc., etc., etc. An hour later I think you said all you needed to say. I didn’t say two sentences the entire time. Neither did my mind wander. You had my complete attention.
I’m happy that I served as a listening ear. I’m happy that we got through our daughter’s emergency together.
November 9, 2011
Last night, I gave you 15 minutes to talk to me about anything; I promised not to interrupt. Your excitement for this opportunity grew over the few days that you knew it was coming. Still, we both agreed that I wouldn’t last the entire 15 minutes–I’m the worst listener in the world. When you talk, I either interrupt you or think about something else (I actually do try to listen). As for you, you love to talk (I’m not saying this is a bad thing). You would have no trouble telling me about your day for a full hour, while my report of my day fits into one sentence.
So, after much anticipation, we sat down for your 15 minutes of free, uninterrupted talk. And then . . . silence. “This is your big chance. Talk to me about whatever. I’ll just listen,” I said. “I don’t know what to say,” you said. More silence. Then, the kids started crying. (I never promised they wouldn’t interrupt.) After I checked on them, we started over. “Okay, what do you want to talk about?” “I don’t know! I guess I’m a little tired right now.” I ended up interviewing you for most of the 15 minutes. I asked you questions about your day and the girls and how you’ve been feeling since you had the baby, and you gave me answers like “Fine,” “We’re doing well,” and “I’m feeling great.” It was surreal. Was this payback for all the one-line answers I’ve given you? Toward the end of the 15 minutes, though, things started flying out of you. Maybe you just needed to warm up. Then, the timer went off (yes, I set a timer!). We continued talking. After a while, the conversation died down and we both nearly fell asleep on the couch. I think I’ll try this 15-minute thing again when you’re not so tired. Maybe we’ll start the timer after you warm up. What the heck! Maybe we’ll try it without the timer!
“He who answers before listening–that is his folly and his shame” (Prov. 18:13).