When I Stop Talking

Posted on September 5, 2012 by

I’ve always been a pretty quiet person.  I love the silence of the morning, the quiet only punctuated by the cawing of crows heading east towards the fields, the spurt of the coffee maker, and the rhythmic splat of the sprinkler as it sprinkles my garden before the sun comes up.

I love the quiet of reading books snuggled under a soft down comforter, the scratch of my pen on journal paper, and the hiss of the candle welcoming me into the daylight.

I never much enjoy talking on the phone, talking in groups or talking at parties.  I think it’s odd that I chose a job where talking consumes so much of my day.  I’ve been told that my teacher-talk is like a kindergarten teacher, explicitly outlining each step of a lesson and highlighting expectations.  I explain  that teaching middle school is just like teaching kindergarten.  When I stop talking, they notice.

I enjoy talking with my children the most.  The times when we’re driving in the car and they see something that reminds them of a story from school, or when I need to explain something very serious, or when we just giggle together are my absolute favorite.  The way they talk as teens is so different from when they were little – in many ways, it seems like the stakes are much higher now.  They need me to listen more now than ever.  There is a shift going on – a time to carefully choose my words, softly encouraging them to listen.

When my children talk to me, they share little bits of their soul.  Sometimes those bits are broken-off shards, sharp, piercing and painful.  Other times they are soft, pillowy bits of fluff that slip from their mouth and bounce around the room.

Sometimes when they talk it is hard to hear them – especially when their words tumble out at warp speed, piling on top of each other like wooden blocks poised to crash to the ground.  We stop, pause, and take our turns at being heard.

Their words matter to me.  When I listen to their young voices I hear my hope for their future.  I hear their curiosity about the world, and their questioning human morality.  When I listen to their words I see their children speaking, years from now, asking for their wisdom.  I hear their minds whirr as they process what they see and who they have heard.  I hear myself in their words.

I know the quiet is coming soon.  They will be gone, moving into their lives and exploring the world more quickly than I would like.  They will use their voices to share, teach, and understand.  They will deepen and stretch and take in so much more than I can imagine, more than I could ever tell them.  I will hunger for those car rides and late night conversations when I had their attention, when I could teach them what I thought they should know.  And when those days come,  I will drop everything for their phone call, eager to hear their voice, desperate to listen for my words coming through their soul. 


Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Comments: 6

    • Jennifer Wolfe

      September 16, 2012

      You’re welcome, Ellen. Sometimes I just miss them so much already.

  • My Inner Chick

    September 6, 2012

    **desperate to listen for my words coming through their soul.**

    My favorite line <3

  • Kenya G. Johnson

    September 5, 2012

    Awww that was sweet. Sometimes when my son talks I wonder how was able to say all of that without taking a breath. That’s a good quote because I hear him when he’s not talking and I know that something is wrong 😉

    • Jennifer Wolfe

      September 6, 2012

      Kenya, I know exactly what you’re talking about! I love it when kids are so excited they can hardly wait to get it all out!

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