Sharon Randall: Power of being seen, heard
It happens to most of us at one time or another. We want to say something important. But no one seems to be listening.
Children need someone to talk to, someone to look into their eyes and listen to their stories, nodding and smiling in all the right places. But parents can be busy with jobs or chores or cell phones. And teachers have a classroom full of kids waving hands, begging to be heard.
Good listeners are hard to find. Not just for children, but for anyone who lives alone, and especially for those at the age of “invisibility” when people no longer seem to see you and have little interest in what you say.
That age is not a number so much as a stage of life. It’s also known as “elderly,” “senior citizen,” “blue-hair,” “retiree,” “geezer” or just plain “old.”
I occasionally get the feeling that I could stand naked on a street corner, juggling live chickens, and traffic wouldn’t stop. Not that I plan to try it.
Children set out on the road of life with so many questions and so much to learn. Meanwhile their elders are nearing the end of the journey with a lifetime of experience and so much to offer.
And that is why God invented grandparents and grandkids. We talk and listen, laugh and cry and learn from each other. It’s a match made in heaven.
Most of what I know about life came from my grandparents. My dad’s parents were farmers who taught me to appreciate a good tomato, pay attention to the weather and delight in the changing of seasons.
My mother’s parents raised 12 children and helped raise a few grandchildren, including me. He was a preacher who sang in his sermons. She was a woman who knew her own mind, loved Jesus but refused to go to church. I was sure the four of them knew all there is to know about this life and the next. They were happy to share it with me.
I’m not nearly as smart or knowledgeable as they were. But I want to be that same kind of grandparent to my grandkids. My husband and I share six, so far, with two more on the way.
We do a lot of talking and listening. The kids hang on us like fleas on a dog. And no matter how long we stay, they never want us to leave. It’s wonderful to have someone who thinks you hang the moon.
I realize it won’t last forever. They will always love us, or so I hope. But someday they’ll have better things to do than to hang out with us. Until then, I hope to spend a lot of time together, with frequent breaks, of course, to avoid total exhaustion.
Imagine my surprise when Randy, my oldest grandchild, invited me, with his teacher’s approval, to speak to his classmates in second grade.
I often speak to aspiring writers of all ages about writing and life and such. It’s what I do. But I had never spoken to one of my grandkids’ classes. I was a bit nervous, until Randy ran up to hug me. He and his classmates and their teacher put me entirely at ease. The kids sat on the floor at my feet while I told them how my blind brother would make me describe in detail things he couldn’t see.
They listened closely, laughed in the right places and raised hands to ask great questions.
At one point, Randy stood by my chair, leaned over and put his arm around my neck. And then — right there in front of his teacher and his classmates and God and all His angels — he rested his head on my shoulder, the way he does when we’re together, just the two of us. And he kept it there while I talked.
There are moments in life that change forever how we see ourselves and the world. That moment, filled with the shining faces of children and the love of a little boy, did that for me.
I’ll never feel invisible again.
Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 416, Pacific Grove CA 93950.