Monday, September 15, 2014

500 Words - Day 5 - Shut-Up Already

Ordinarily when I talk about the power of silence I am usually referring to the quiet of meditation and the silence of inner peace. I’m talking about quieting your mind and giving yourself permission to examine your problems and listen for the creative solutions that reside within. I’m usually talking about being quiet so that we can contemplate and appreciate the many blessings in our lives, allowing ourselves the reverent time to appreciate how they enrich us; to gaze inwardly and allow ourselves the opportunity to be in awe.

There is however another type of silence that is vitally important to our own wellbeing, our relationships, our success and our happiness; the silence of shutting up.

I’m sorry was that rude?

Shall I rephrase that?—the silence of ‘say nothing’.  I like to say the silence of shutting up because when I fail that’s what I hear “shut-up.” Not in a mean hurtful tone, not in a strong voice or volume, usually it’s a long drawn out “ssshuuuuuut uuuup” followed by a frozen stare (cue visual of Bert over the tipping point with Ernie). Usually it’s one of my kids staring, usually I get the point. Usually it’s a really good reminder that I’m hindering their process, getting in the way of their ability to be ‘inside’ examining their problems and listening to their own soul for creative solutions.

We do this as parents, or at least I do as a mom. We are the perfect tool for our children! We have wisdom of age, tried a tested solutions, we can see consequences a mile away and know exactly the right page to reference in the ‘Been There, Done That’ field guide to predict the best course of action in any given circumstance. And it frustrates us that our children don’t utilize us more. It is agonizing to watch them try and fail, to make wrong choices, to set themselves back or head down a difficult path; especially when our experience could save them so much trouble and heartache. So we talk, we offer advice, we tell them how it is. We try, out of the love, to be helpful and supportive and we drive them crazy.

I am sure that children in fact must feel an awful lot like my husband trying to decide what he wants at the drive thru window while everyone else in the car is trying to give him their order—Crazy.

I was reflecting just yesterday on how grateful I am to have learned the value of ‘shutting-up’, the importance of trusting that my kids have the ability to make their own way in life.  I was reflecting  on the notion that personal failure is okay, that children have answers and that they will feel more confident in their decisions, solutions and efforts if they come to them from their own silence and reflection.

From my quiet little spot on the curb behind a hockey arena yesterday I reflected upon the knowledge that the only words my kids ever really need from me are “I’m here” and that my ears are of far greater value than my words.

There staring at an empty parking lot, listening to highway traffic whizzing by just beyond a thicket of brush, there with my legs crossed and the building to my back I felt a deep sense of gratitude that my son has the courage to tell me to “ssshuuuuuut uuuup.”

Because sometimes I forget.  

I forget that being silent can stop an argument before it starts, it can express disappointment, it says “I’m listening”. Silence lets someone follow their own thoughts, reveal their own opinions; it allows space for problem solving and preparation. Silence is a place for compassion, remorse and delight to emerge naturally. Silence, well placed and shared can express more pride, more joy, and more sorrow than a thousand well phrased words.

It was nice to be reminded. 

Shut-up and let your kids surprise you. I guarantee they will. 

...and when I went back inside I was just in time to see what Ethan did with the silence I gave him. and he did  in fact surprise us all.