Friday, September 16, 2011
What's On Your Mind?
What's on your mind? That's a great question, but don't ask it of someone if you're not willing to be quiet and listen to what they have to say.
My daughter turned 16 last week and I found myself reflecting ... reflecting on the early years of both of my children. I thought about the special things that I did with each of them. My son is now 25 and out on his own. He's smart, he's strong, he's handsome (I can say that unbiasly, of course, since I'm his mother), and as much as I don't care to admit it ... he's an adult. I remember when he was little (maybe around 2 or 3 years old). I would take him to a local mall. We weren't really shopping for anything, I'd just walk and let him ride along in his stroller. We always seemed to end up at the Little Caesar's in the food court. We'd share a slice of pizza and just 'people watch'. It wasn't anything fancy, just some quality time spent with each other.
When my daughter was born her brother was in 5th grade, so while he was in school she and I would run errands. I remember how she would smile and be happy and win over anyone we came across. When we'd go to the grocery store near the house, the deli clerk would always ask if she wanted a slice of cheese. Sometimes she would get one, but she usually always had her eye on the grapes. The produce manager would be putting fruit and veggies out and I would bag a bunch of grapes. He'd always see her eyeing them, so he would offer to go wash some off for her. It got to the point where some days he'd be watching for her. As soon as we'd get to the deli, the deli clerk would offer her cheese and he would pop up out of no where and say 'She doesn't want your cheese! My grapes are better!' He'd already have a little bunch of grapes washed for her. Her face would light up (and so would his).
Now years later I watch my daughter as she's growing into a beautiful young woman. She's witty, she's caring, and she has a natural beauty where she can go without makeup and jewelry (her choice) and wear anything and look like she ought to be on the pages of a catalog. She's very strong mentally (probably stronger than she gives herself credit for) and has formed some definate opinions. I'm so proud that both of our kids have managed to form solid morals and values (certainly not for a lack of effort from my husband and I).
Over the summer she had to read 2 books for her Honors English class. When school started last week she said they were having a discussion in her English class about the books they'd read. One of the books that she read was 'Into The Wild' (I think that was the name). It was a true story about a young man who chose to leave his high paced materialistic life behind and head out into the wilderness. The ending wasn't the greatest because he died, but she expressed to her teacher and the class that she could relate with some of the things that he felt. She doesn't like the sterotypes in today's society. She doesn't like the sense of people feeling pressured or feeling the need to conform with what everyone else is doing. And (having nothing to do with the book) she told the class she didn't like some of the college representatives that have come into her junior and senior high schools. In the 8th grade she had a college representative come in and ask her what her interests were. She told her she was more of an artsy person ... that she likes writing and music. She plays SEVERAL instruments and has both ability and a passion for her music. The college representative said 'That's great, I'm sure we've got some great classes that would really help you. First I'd suggest an extra math class and perhaps getting on the science fast track.' With an astonished look, my daughter asked, 'But what does that have to do with music?' The lady replied, 'Nothing, but math and science are where the future is.'
Obviously the college representative had very strong opinions on the matter (or perhaps those of her school). The sad thing was she didn't hear a single word my daughter said when she asked her what her interests were. It goes back to the original question. 'What's on your mind?' Never, never asked a question if you don't fully intend to listen to the answer. It doesn't mean that you have to agree, it just means that you should make the honest and sincere effort to truly listen to what is being said.
The unfortunate thing is that so many people, adults and children alike, have opinions, but for whatever reason give up sharing their opinions because somewhere along the way someone told them that their opinion didn't matter. That couldn't be further from the truth. Everyone has something to say and everyone should be heard. Of course there is always a time and a place for everything, there's the matter of being respectful towards others, and there's the concept that if you can't say anything nice perhaps you should keep your opinion to yourself. So the next time someone asks you what you think, think about your response first, think it through (ALL the way through) and if you think you can share it without hurting anyone, then share it.
So what is on your mind today?