not forgetting back when

I drove to work this week past an elementary school. It was the first day of school. There were really little people with bigger people standing close.

hope's stuffed animalsI smiled and thought, “just wait until she’s at college orientation. That will be tough.”

And then I stopped.

I remember watching our first one climb on the bus for the first day of kindergarten. I cried that day, too. I remember watching him try out for the team, her try out for the play. I remember the nerves, the anxiousness, the sense of “what does this say about my kid? What does this say about me?”

I realized that the people who are most helpful to others are people who don’t forget.

  • They are people who say, “I sure struggled with that”, a sentence which means, “It isn’t just you.”
  • They are people who say, “That process didn’t make sense to me either. Here’s how I found my way.”
  • They are people who say, “Can I help you hold that?”, a sentence which means, “I will stand here with you for awhile.”
  • They are people who don’t say, “Did you see those saps crying over there?”
  • They are people who don’t say, “Just wait until she’s at college orientation.”

This is sort of about school, I guess, and the challenges of parenting. But it’s really about building meaningful relationship. The people we trust are people who haven’t forgotten what it’s like to not understand. And are willing to explain.

Would you consider being one of those people?


3 responses to “not forgetting back when

  1. I thought about this a lot as a kid. I saw kids turn into teens, then adults, and act as though they’d always been cool and settled with whatever circumstance they were excoriating some younger person, including children, about. We forget just how differently a mind with decades of way points of perspective sees things than the innocently fresh, open mind of a child.
    But it extrapolates out to our interaction with other adults; condescension as a reply to an inquiry, or as commentary to less informed statement, (especially in public- like on Twitter), evidences those who forget who they were before they knew as much. But it often reveals someone trying fit the mantle of expert.
    I choose to trust those who are real and solid enough to put their best self forward while dressed in genuine humility and grace.

  2. well said, Ed.

    I think that you are right about wanting to be seen as expert–which relates (at least for me) more to our insecurity than to our competence. What seems to be least expert–caring for those who don’t understand–actually reveals a deeper competence as a person.

  3. Personally there are times when I or my kids are struggling through a phase when I am absolutely desperate for this validation.

    gnmp misses you.