Monday, May 30, 2005

"Leo, you have to come back here and tell me! I can't hear a word you're saying!"

It wasn't said once or twice, but at least once every block. This week marks the first official week of summer vacation for my seven-year-old son Leo. And we're all learning and relearning the newly revised daily family schedule. What do you do with an active seven-year-old boy and just as active 21-month-old triplets? Needless to say, there needs to be a variety of activities planned and concessions made by all parties. One of those planned activities - when the spring/summer rain passes - is a daily afternoon neighborhood stroll with the triplets and Leo along side on his bicycle.

Riding on ahead down the block, Leo will turn to me and say (from a half block away), "Daddy, do we turn here or go straight? Are we going to the park and play?" To which I reply (as I can only see him, stop, turn back and move his lips), "Leo, you have to come back here and tell me! I can't hear a word you're saying!" But there he stands, "Daddy, do we turn here or go straight? Are we going to the park and play?"...

He is definitely his father's son. While watching him play on the neighborhood's park slide, I thought of how I have done the very same in my past journey; quickly moving on ahead in Life, interactions, projects, relationships, conversations and shouting back at the involved parties. Many of which remained frustrated... plus, they never heard me. It would have been much easier through all those times if someone would have just yelled at me, "Lee, you have to come back here and tell me. I can't hear a word you're saying." And they did say something, but not in these exact words. And I kept wondering, as I'm sure my son does one-half block ahead on the sidewalk, "If he could just catch up, he could hear me."

But we all do this, don't we? We "quantum leap" in our projects, our conversations, our relationships, our journey and we sometimes can't understand how feelings ever got hurt or why the other(s) can't understand us. My wife Di will sometimes say to me, in the middle of a conversation or interaction, "Did I miss something?" It's a wake-up call for me that I moved on too far ahead and may need to come back so that we can both hear each other. Have you experienced something similar?

It takes time to come all the way back when we're already at the end of the block. In fact, it can take quite a bit of time to come back and speak and listen. Perhaps this is why there are and will always be so many books on interpersonal communications and relationships. It's hard for a group of , much less even two, individuals to journey along at the same pace. And when the pace varies, someone has to be patient. In this case, my son Leo won't come back to us but I'm thankful he'll wait for us to catch up to him, say what he has to say and then, ride off again. Perhaps I could learn something from that effort.


Post Note: To those friends and colleagues in my past where I journeyed too far up the block and never came back or waited, you have my apology. It took three little lives to slow me down so that others are now having to wait for me. Turn about fair play...

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