This morning I went to visit someone who was really glad to see me so that is always a great feeling. My daughter in law Stephanie called and invited me to come over and spend some time this morning with her and our grandson Ben who is fourteen months old. That is the sort of invite that you will never see me turn down….time with the grandbabies… so off I went. As I was walking up the front walk he had a big smile on his face and reached out to me when Steph opened the door and at that moment, my day was made. There is just no group of people who bring me joy quite like my grandchildren.

The first few minutes that I was sitting in their living room, I was completely devoted to that little guy. I was holding him, asking him questions, just generally fussing over him which he was extremely happy about. After a few minutes he began to toddle around, playing with toys on the floor which gave me a chance to catch up on talking with my daughter-in-law. I wasn’t talking very long however when I noticed that little Ben was not a happy camper. He knows exactly when his mimi is talking just strictly to him and when I am speaking with his mom and trust me when I tell you that he wanted my full attention.

As soon as he noticed the change in my tone of voice and that I was no longer talking only to him, he rushed over to me and let his protests be known. He was bringing me toys, wanting to climb up on my lap, doing anything that he could to shift the focus squarely on just him. Stephanie and I even began laughing at his need and demand for my total attention. He was persistent in letting me know what he thought about me looking beyond him and towards someone else and it was both cute and remarkable.

Later today when I was running some errands and driving in my car I smiled as I thought back to my little grandson’s own little way of protesting as I switched from talking and listening to him and him only. As I thought about that, I began to think about the skill of truly listening in general. Listening is a lost skill sometimes in our self absorbed culture , is it not?  Have you ever had this experience…you are talking one on one to someone in a crowded room or lobby and the person listening to you is only half focused on you. You notice that he or she is partially clued in to what you are saying because their eyes are darting around the room making sure that they are not missing others’ actions or conversations. Can you relate? I sure can because I have been both the guilty party and the victim of such rudeness. It is just so important that when we are having a conversation with someone that we give that person our full attention. When I was in school growing up, the teachers always called it “undivided attention”. I can remember countless reminders from teachers saying “Class, give me your undivided attention!” In fact I heard it so many times that I began to tune it out however now as I reflect back, I cannot think of a more accurate term for what we owe to anyone who is speaking to us. 
Sometimes I think that when we are giving only partial attention to someone whom we are talking to that they do not really notice. Think again. I had a fourteen month old continually remind me this morning that I was not solely focused on him, and if his baby radar is that sharp, then most older children and adults are equally as sensitive and aware as well.

Yes, I was thoroughly reminded this morning about the need to give someone your full devotion of attention when both speaking and listening to them. What is best is that the teacher of that lesson was one of my very favorite people in the whole world. He stands only a couple feet tall, weighs about twenty one pounds and has the biggest most beautiful blue eyes that will stop you dead in your tracks. He did a great job of telling me that he wanted me talking just to him!

 

 Speaking and listening to someone…both a challenge and important enough to do it correctly. Thanks Benny for reminding me of that this morning!

 

Your mimi loves you immensely.