At some point, we stop asking Why?
And we start telling, instead. We layer on the scripts that have been handed down to us. We shrug our shoulders and say, “because that is the way it is.” We reinforce the way it is every time we retell it.
Then, from these overly simplistic constructs, judgment grows. It doesn’t feel like judgment falling out of our mouths. It feels like truth.
Instead of “Watch Your Mouth,” why don’t we say “Listen to Your Mouth?”
Listen carefully to all the words that come out of your mouth. When words start to retell old, messy stories, imagine you’re walking out onto a precipice and it’s a long way down.
Imagine you are standing on something that is not the truth; perhaps something crumbly. And consider who you might be taking with you.
If we care for children standing on these risky ideals, our children tumble with us.
Listen to Your Mouth.
He knows better.
She is capable of so much more, so that’s what I expect.
They are making a choice to be this way.
He doesn’t care; why should I care?
There are others. You likely know yours intimately.
I am going to say it once, and you are going to have to sort yourselves into those who agree, those who disagree, and those who are so numb that a response is not even on the perimeter of your awareness:
When we hear these words coming out of our mouths, we must set them aside and step back into Why?
If she is capable, why is she stuck? If they are making poor choices, then why? If he knows better, and he simply cannot stop himself from doing it anyway, why? If you know a child who is capable of caring so deeply, and she has retreated into a blank or guarded, disrespectful gaze, well…why?
And if you were right, and a child is simply “making a choice,” to be cruel, disruptive, or disengaged, then the next thing to consider is simply, why?
Congratulate yourself. You noticed something. You saw a part of a child–the glimmer before she dove deep once again, or right before he threw a bolo punch, or just as they collectively dropped the curtain between you and them, locking all of their wisdom far outside of your reach. You saw. And then you saw it change.
We ask why. Quietly at first, and with time if the child gains trust in you, we might be able to ask aloud; maybe, if we are very fortunate. We don’t stop asking why. We don’t go back to old stories, and we don’t give up.
Read more. Ask more. Discuss more. Ponder more. Rest more. Protect your heart and your energies. Learn more.
Gather together with curiosity and a love of the inquiry. Abandon ambivalence and arrogance. Break off old, weary shells and stories. Get in here, we need help.