Lately everywhere I go I see adults dragging children around while talking on their cellphones. Sometimes the child is in a stroller, sometimes in a shopping cart, sometimes across the table in a fast food restaurant. The child is there, often talking, and the adult is either talking on the phone, texting on the phone, or looking at the phone.
In this photo, I am four years old and I have the undivided attention of two family friends. They are taking me seriously. They are each focusing their gaze on me as I talk and they listen. I understood, without being explicitly told, that I mattered. I grew up assuming that what I had to say was important. It might not be well received later in my life–and often it wasn’t–but I held and still hold the conviction that my voice matters.
Children are little for a very short time, no matter how endless it seems when we are mothers to small children. They chatter nonstop, and we often wish for a little silence from them. Ironically enough, when they are older, we long to hear them say anything to us besides the monosyllabic responses of “fine,” “no,” and the extended sentence of “you wouldn’t understand.”
Listen whenever you have a chance. It can be life changing for a child. It was for me.