Learning to Listen

Much was written and spoken about listening, yet lack of listening, though not admitted, is something we are all afflicted by. Listen to this short version of a nice story that I found on the net:

We all know what it’s like to get a phone call in the middle of the night.  This night’s call was no different. I focused on the red illuminated numbers of my clock. It was midnight. Panicky thoughts filled my sleep-dazed mind as I grabbed the receiver. “Hello?”  My heart pounded while I eyed my husband, who was now turning to my side of the bed.
“Mama?”  I could hardly hear the whisper over the static, but my thoughts immediately went to my daughter. The desperate sound of a young crying voice became clearer on the line.  

“Mama, I know it’s late, but don’t… don’t say anything until I finish. I nearly ran off the road a few miles back and yes… I’ve been drinking.”  I drew in a sharp shallow breath and grabbed for my husband and squeezed his wrist. Something wasn’t right.
“And I got so scared. All I could think about was how it would hurt you if a policeman came to your door and said I’d been killed. I know running away was wrong and I want to come home. I know you’ve been worried sick. I should have called you days ago…”
Sobs of deep-felt emotion flowed from the receiver and poured into my heart. Immediately I pictured my daughter’s face in my mind. “I think…”
“No! Please let me finish! Please!” She pleaded in desperation.  I paused and tried to think of what to say, but she continued, “I’ve few things to tell you that I didn’t share with you. I know I shouldn’t be drinking now, but I’m so scared…” The voice broke again and I bit into my lip feeling my own eyes fill with moisture. My husband sat silently mouthing, “Who is it?”
When I didn’t answer, he left the room, returning seconds later with the portable phone held to his ear. She must have heard the click in the line because she continued, “Are you still there? Please don’t hang up on me! I need you. I feel so alone.”
I stared at my husband seeking guidance. “I’m here, I wouldn’t hang up,” I said.
“I know I should have shared with you, Mama. But when we talk, you just keep telling me what I should do. You read all those pamphlets on how to talk about sex and all, but all you do is talk. You don’t listen. You never let me tell you how I feel. Because you’re my mother, you think you have all the answers. But sometimes I don’t need answers. I just want someone to listen.”

I swallowed the lump in my throat and stared at the ‘how-to-talk- to-your-kids’ pamphlets scattered on my nightstand. “I’m listening,” I whispered.
“I called a taxi to take me back home, but I think I can drive now.”
“No!” I snapped and I tightened the clasp on my husband’s hand. “Please, wait for the taxi.”
I listened to the silence in fear. Somehow I had to stop her from driving. My husband came closer and I knew from his touch that he thought I was doing and saying the right things.
Only when I heard someone in the background asking about a Yellow Cab did I feel my tension easing. “There’s the taxi. I’m coming home, Mama.”
There was a click and the phone went silent. With tears forming in my eyes, I walked out into my sixteen-year-old daughter’s room. The dark silence hung thick and my husband came from behind and wrapped his arms around me.
“We have to learn to listen,” I said.
I stared at the bed when my husband asked, “Do you think she’ll ever know she dialed the wrong number?”
I looked at our sleeping daughter, then back at him. “Maybe it wasn’t such a wrong number.”
“Mom, Dad, what are you doing?” The muffled young voice came from under the covers.
I walked over to my daughter, who now sat up staring into the darkness.
“We’re practicing,” I answered.
“Practicing what?” she mumbled.
“Listening,” I whispered, and brushed a hand over her cheek.
(From the internet site “Heart N’Souls”. Author: Johny Silvas)

So let this story serve as a wake-up call for better communication and authentic listening between parents and children and amongst all of us in general.

Fireworks (61)
Shuka, Thursday, August 12, 2010

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