I have always loved remembering those moments when my kids would drop their toys to tell me stories, ask questions, their observations, discoveries, anything and everything that captured their hearts as small curious children.
During those moments, they would snuggle close to my heart, look up and stare with their cute China eyes emitting so much trust, enthusiasm and love as they pour their little hearts out.
I would listen away and learn fab new terms like “noob” and “cringe-worthy”. I’m so amazed with how the Urban Dictionary had been useful over the years which somewhat replaced most idioms I’m more familiar with.
Now, in their teens, those moments happen mostly during our drives together. At home, they’re busier and like their own space either in their rooms, the office or living room with schoolwork, hobbies, crafts and friends. It’s amazing how they developed their individuality and seperate interest while under the same roof. This is still an unsolved mystery I’m hoping to uncover someday.
I love how they talk to each other about what seems only the two of them know about, laughing then quarelling and later agreeing to a common point without needing me to referee which, of course, is bliss. They are each other’s bestfriend even if they haven’t realized it yet and I am grateful to God for this.
There are times I feel the urge to grab and sit them on my lap like I used to but I pause to respect their space and wait when they feel like it.
Last night, after our dinner date with relatives, I quickly dozed off after laying my back in bed. Issa woke me up at past midnight to cuddle her to sleep.
This morning around 5am, I rose, made coffee, went to the terrace and started reading a new book when Ice came out to kiss me good morning. This was his morning habit as a little boy which had evolved to booting up the office computer first in recent years. I missed this. He said he was hungry and asked for breakfast.
Now, I realize why I love our Tagaytay escapes so much. Being semi-unplugged and undistracted is when we – as a family – listen with our eyes and ears more. There are no distractions in the studio apartment.
Funny how my thoughts now wander to the families I interviewed in Smokey Mountain, Coastal Road and Pildera in many of my case studies.
It used to puzzle me how some people in dire and needy situations manage or afford to laugh, endlessly converse and love so much to the point of having 5-8 children in a space smaller than our small Tagaytay haven. Now, I am enlightened with a new perspective.
Though big houses offer more space and room, the walls separate families. They offer less opportunities of togetherness. Smaller spaces give us more of each other to share ourselves and love ever more personally. We get the chance to listen with our eyes.
I also realized that when my kids complain that I don’t listen even if I was, it’s because they want to see me looking at them at the same time.
Listening doesn’t only involve the ears but truly listening requires eye contact. I am now reminded that whatever I do, my children will reflect back. I need to teach by example.
From now on, whenever I listen, I will also have my eyes on them. Whatever I am doing, except driving, can wait. Whatever the topic might be is more important than anything else. I would never let them miss seeing me truly listening to them with the different expressions I will witness on their faces that’ll truly make me hear and understand them better.
So when the day they parent their own children comes, they’ll experience the same joy and knowledge they are now giving me. They will become better listeners to everyone they’ll share their lives with and teaching them to be so restarts now. I thank the Lord for teaching me once again.
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6