I have a tendency of saying too much, especially when I’m trying to teach my kids a lesson on life. I usually know when I’ve gone too far by at least the third or fourth eye roll though, but sometimes it takes me until I see the ear buds go in.
Well, wasn’t I surprised when my ten year old son taught me a life lesson, and not a word was uttered!
I was happily puttering around the house one beautiful summer day, enjoying the breeze from the open windows. My son, Nolan, was outside, as usual, playing with his two best friends: Lauren and Jimmy. The trio were inseparable. They were like Ready, Willing and Able— always prepared for hours of fun!
Our families were neighbors. Nolan had met Lauren while they were both in their respective baby strollers. The two had sauntered around the ‘hood together, sharing a bottle or two, becoming instant pals.
When Lauren’s brother Jimmy arrived a couple of years later, he was naturally absorbed into their pal-ship. They were all so compatible they rarely ever argued. The days of play turned into months, then years.
Ten years of sharing life’s first experiences.
I was thereby shocked when Nolan walked into the house that summer day with a smile on his face and cheerfully exclaimed, “Hey, guess what? Lauren and Jimmy are moving to Ohio!”
Doubly shocked. First by the news. Next by Nolan’s reaction.
I looked deeply into into my son’s eyes, then began seeing through his bravado. I instinctively wrapped my arms around him and held him close.
My heart broke for him. I immediately wanted to make it all better. Words of comfort came to my mind like, it will be ok, you’ll make new friends, nothing good lasts forever.
But instead, I said NOTHING! Anything I could think to say felt artificial and cliche’. This was just too real and painful.
When I finally released him Nolan looked up at me with red, puffy eyes, waiting for some magical words that would take away his pain.
I said, “I’m so sorry honey. I’m going to miss them too.” This brought on more tears, from both of us this time.
A couple days later a significant change occurred in Nolan. There were no more tears and very little sadness. Instead, I watched as he focused all of his energy on enjoying every moment he had left with his buddies. They played from sunrise to sunset. There wasn’t anything they hadn’t already done throughout the years but now it was done with so much more gusto and intensity.
They were simply living in the moment.
Although I hadn’t realized it at the time, I had given Nolan the greatest gift—the gift of silence. I had allowed him to feel whatever he was feeling, which allowed him to own his feelings and find the power of strength within himself.
Today, as I prepare a snack for Nolan and his new buddies I am filled with a sense of comfort and confidence in knowing that my son can handle the challenges life will inevitably bring.
This time, saying nothing said it all.