Today I thought I’d share one of my “Tiny Stories” about one of the four-year-olds I teach. It was one of those days when the student — becomes the teacher.
As I dismissed my students from Spanish class, I had each child say “Gracias, Señora” before they lined up – an “exit ticket” type dismissal for four-year-olds. Florence, who had mentally and physically checked out of the lesson sometime during our song about an owl that shush’s everyone so they can sleep at night, had had enough of the nocturnal bird and buried her head in her lap, peeking over her tiny hand.
Thinking perhaps she missed the “exit” words during her siesta, I gently reminded her, “You just need to say, “Gracias, Señora” and then go line up. And just like that, she flopped to the floor like a limp inflatable balloon guy at a car dealership. She peered up with a seemingly forced face of exhaustion, and said, “I am WAY too tired to do that…AND! (she paused dramatically as we locked eyes), “My ears are magic and I turned them off… so I don’t know what you said.”
As a big David Blain and card trick fan, I loved magic – so I dug deeper.
“Magic ears?” I queried. “Yes, magic ears.” She repeated glancing up at my run-of-the-mill ears with a touch of disgust. “They don’t work at school” she added. Always thinking I could crack the kid code and figure out what makes them tick, I tried it all, “What would your mom want you to do? Should we call and ask?” to which she replied, “Yes, let’s call her. I’d like to go home and play with my little sister” Strike One.
Then I jumped into my four-year-old self and told her my ears were magic too and they can only hear the word, “Gracias”. As she stoically sat criss-cross-applesauce looking at me she started mouthing the words, “I don’t know what to say” and then slowly and barely audible as if testing out my own magic ears, she whispered, “Gracias”. We quickly stood up and walked back to class.
On our walk down the hall, I said, “Florence, as you left the room, your remote control for your magic ears fell out of your pocket, but I’ll look for it for you.” She glanced up and said matter of factly, “No, my fairy holds the remote for my magic ears and she has it!”
And just like that Florence made me a believer in magic ears. It just goes to show, no matter the age, we are all going to choose to listen…or not.
What I learned:
We all do it. During a conversation, we half listen, thinking more about what sage wisdom we can inject into the discussion, or we glance down at our phones because clearly the weather app or tik tok can’t be left alone for a minute.
I heard a story the other day about a wife who for the first time in several years of marriage listened, really listened to her husband tell the story of when they met. She said she typically interrupted him with her rendition of their first meet-up, but when she heard his version of the story, it helped her realize special moments she missed or had forgotten. Moreover, from that moment on, she made a vow to herself to listen to others. Truly listen.
So maybe Florence wasn’t into listening on that rainy Wednesday, but she was into creating and imagining and messing with her teacher and for that, I say…thanks for “not listening” Florence, you taught me a lot.
Thanks for joining me!