Thursday, December 10, 2009

Teaching, Timing, Trust

There are so many things I want my children to know before they are grown. So many things I want to tell them. So many things I want them to know. Every so often I must remind myself of two things. First, that I won't stop telling them things just because they're grown. And, second, that there are many lessons they will and need to learn on their own. Often it's only in retrospect that we can look back and say, "I wish someone had told me that." The truth is that maybe we wouldn't have been able to hear it or it wouldn't have made sense or we would have forgotten anyway because it didn't seem relevant. I think that's why premarital counseling often has so little effect. It's not just that it's young love or that it's all so new and romantic, but when a person just isn't ready for a piece of information, it often goes in the waste bin rather than the file cabinet. They won't need the information until they're in the situation. And that's why parenting is a full time job that never ends. We've got to be there when the timing is right and the wisdom is relevant...which is so often different from the timing we expected.

I was musing the other night about how babies seem to just learn things on their own. I remember having some freakish fear that we needed to be doing something to help Mane learn to crawl, and then one day she just crawled...with no help from us. I think that sometimes we think we're doing something by holding those tiny hands and helping the baby walk across the room, but, strangely enough, most babies will learn to walk whether we practice with them or not. We repeat words to them over and over, "Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama," only to have them burst out with "Dada" or "ball" or "cat." Sure, they still learned from us, but not in the way we expected...not by any direct teaching...and certainly in their own way and in their own time. I suppose that's why how we live our lives is more important that what we say. We're being watched even when we're not teaching.

It's such a dance...that knowing when to teach and when to trust. Knowing when you've said or done enough. Even knowing when direct teaching will interfere with the deeper teaching that comes of personal experience. When to say something and when to let the lesson be learned. Holding on. Letting go. Holding back. Pouring forth.

I love it that the verbs "to wait" and "to hope" and "to expect" are the same in Spanish.

Sometimes we must wait.
Hold back.
Keep pace, not running ahead.
And hope, knowing that we have already built the foundation,
And sit on the edge of our seats expectantly,
knowing that something glorious is about to break forth.
All on it's own.
Without our help.

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