Last night I watched a beautiful movie called “Still Mine”. It was one of the most powerful movies I have seen in some time. But this piece is not about the movie, rather it is about the impact that one scene in particular has had on my thinking.
In the very beginning of the movie there is a scene in which an 87-year-old grandfather tells his 9-year-old grandson about the time he had the courage to walk down to the New York Yankees dugout to get a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth. The grandfather was quite proud of the autograph and was hopeful that this story would resonate with his grandson.
It didn’t. It didn’t because his 9-year-old grandson had no idea who Babe Ruth was and therefore the story meant nothing to him. The grandfather was mortified and asked his grandson how he could have possibly reached the age of nine not knowing who Babe Ruth was.
To which his quick-witted grandson replied, “Grandad do you know who Drake (current hip-hop artist) is?” The grandfather paused for a moment and soon realized he hadn’t slightest clue.
Does it matter that he had never heard of Drake? I think so. I think so because he had just chastised his grandson for having never heard of Babe Ruth.
Are we all guilty of this? I don’t know about you, but I sure am. I do my best at tuning in to what matters to adults, to students and most importantly to my own children. But do I listen well enough? I don’t know but, I’m quite certain I could do better.
My daughter loves fashion and she loves clothes. She has even downloaded several fashion apps that she loves to play with from time to time. There are times when she shows me some outfit or design that she has created and quite often I mindlessly nod and say, “Oh, that’s nice Honey.”
But I have recently begun making more of an effort to become more in tune to the fact that these things matter to her. And she means the world to me. Furthermore, I need to start paying more careful attention to what is important to my staff and students. Why would they pay attention to what matters to me if I am not paying attention to what matters to them?
Because I am their supervisor?
Because I am the assistant principal?
Because I am her father.
People listen, I mean truly listen, when they know that they don’t always have to start at chapter 1. That they can simply pick up where they left off. They take comfort in knowing that we are already familiar with the characters in their stories. And sometimes, if we’re good. I mean really good, we are even in their stories.
If our goal is to meaningfully connect with the people in our lives, especially children, then we need to start doing a better job of listening to what matters to them and not telling them what matters to us.
“Just ask me how things are coming along. You could tell me that you’ve never heard none of my songs. As long as you end up saying one day you plan to listen cause what’s a star, when its most important fan is missing?”