First off, it was hard for him to leave because Grace begged him to take her with him. She assured him she'd let him pack her up in his suitcase if she could go. I'm not sure if she wanted to get on a plane or if she actually wanted to go with her daddy. We told her it was against the law to get on the plane inside a suitcase and that she had to have a ticket. She decided she really didn't want to go to jail, so her desperate plea soon ended. Sweet little thang.
So he's on the plane ATL to SAN. It was a crowded flight, and he happened to sit next to "one old SC lady." That's what she called herself. She's a counselor from South Carolina. Right now, she counsels soldiers who are adjusting to life back home after being in a war zone. Once they were in the air, she insisted on finding the only serviceman on the plane and continued to insist on buying him something to eat. He told her it wasn't necessary, but she wouldn't take no for an answer. She gave the money to the flight attendant and made sure it would be spent on keeping this man from being the slightest bit hungry.
She sat down by Deron and peppered him with questions about his life, his family. And she proceeded to counsel him. First, she was listening to something and put the earbud right in his ear and said, "Here. Listen to this." What would you do if a grandma came up to you and told you to listen? You'd listen. So he did. It was parenting advice. Amazing parenting advice. Basically it was all about listening to your children.
Let me pause this story to say that I completely understand how hard that can be. My attention can be pulled in so many directions all at once, but somewhere inside me I know that if I want my children to talk to me, then I need to be listening to them. Sometimes it's hard when they talk all. the. flippin'. time. But nonetheless, I must listen now when they want to talk about their childhood, what they're interested in, what they like, what they don't like, how they feel, what is truly important to them. I must be attentive. I must not give flippant answers when I haven't been paying real attention. They know, and if we're not listening they'll stop talking.
It takes effort, or at least, it does for me. My four children talk a lot. They seem to want to tell me something all the time. And for a person who is refreshed in the quiet, it's difficult to have four little people who want my attention. It wears me out to listen and hear all that they have to say. But I know that there is a time coming when they won't just want to talk. They'll need to. And I want my kids to know that I'm here for them anytime, anywhere.
Back to the SC lady. She said that so many times, children can reason through things as they talk to someone, but as parents, it's hard to just listen. We want the path with least resistance. We want to fix things quickly so we can move on. We want them to adopt our point of view just because.
And because I want to raise children who can depend on me and yet not be dependent on me, I need to help their minds process things. I need to help them communicate effectively and part of communication is listening. As the saying goes, more is caught than taught. If I listen, really listen to them, maybe they will learn to listen to the people they encounter in their own lives. Our time at home with our children is limited. May we be truly present for them.
I plan to transcribe the letter the old SC lady gave him on the plane soon. It's mostly about life and marital advice. She was something special, and I never even met her. But I know this, she changed my life.