Sometimes, when my children tell me stories, I can hear the broken pieces rattling around inside of them. The pieces are jagged and sharp like broken glass, threatening to poke through the surface and rip through tender flesh. I let the children talk, telling me the stories through which their hurts, their sadness, their disappointments are revealed. At times, the disappointment is minor, like a missed role in a play or a snubbing by a not-close friend.
Other times, the hurt is much deeper—a wound that continually gets ripped open despite their best efforts to keep in closed and let it heal. Maybe “someone” is coercing them to do something they don’t want to do, or their events once again don’t fit into “someone’s” schedule. Years later, and the story remains the same.
So I listen. I let them know they always have my ear—whether they want it or not—and they talk. I listen below the surface, paying special attention to what is not right, what is not good. The act of talking wears on the broken parts like the tide works a piece of glass—wearing, smoothing, dulling. In time, the broken pieces become worn and opaque, like beach glass, dotting the path of their journey, touchstones of strength and growth. But for now, I will pay attention. I will notice the unspoken undertones of their stories, and I will support them through listening, questioning, and being present. I will offer them an outlet for their thoughts, like a rock tumbler churning and working the moments of their lives. It is something we all need. Someone to listen. And to be present.