Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Being Ready

There was a small cluster of people standing around the family washroom, all waiting quietly in line. There were Joe and I, along with Ruby and Sadie, there was also a staff of some kind with two very shy girls. We'd all just seen 'The Good Dinosaur' - a somewhat disturbing animated film. The girl, with her staff, a child care worker of some sort I imagine, looked a bit shocked when I asked her if she liked the movie. As she spoke, it became clear that her facility in English wasn't great but that she really wanted to answer my question.

"I got scared," she said.

When she spoke, the child care worker, stopped, for a second, from whatever he was doing on his phone, and looked down at her and then up and me and smiled. Then he went back to his phone, checking out his Facebook page.

"I got scared too," I said, not being patronizing, some of what the movie about is scary, "Which part scared you?"

She very quietly and working to express herself in English, told me that she was scared when the dad dinosaur (spoiler alert) was swept away and killed. Her eyes filled with tears, "I didn't know what happened to him. I kept wanting him to be found, to come back."

"Me, too," I said.

Before I could say more the worker looked over at me and said, "Wow, she's talking to you, it's very hard to get her to talk."

I don't like speaking about someone when they are right there. But I simply nodded. His comment seemed to silence her and she looked away from me breaking off the conversation.

"I wonder why she's talking to you," he said.

"Maybe," I said, "because I'm not on my phone."

I don't know the stories of the two girls he was supporting. I don't know where they came from or what they experienced. But I know that at least one of them has a lot to say. If we want to hear, we have to appear ready to listen, we have to take opportunities to open doors, we have to disconnect from electronics so that we can connect with those who we support.

We communicate what we value all the time.

That's so important, let me say it again.

We communicate what we value all the time.

And we communicate it to everyone.

6 comments:

Belinda Burston said...

I agree Dave! I saw this when my mum needed support. Some of her staff were rushed and busy and focused on phone messages; others were present in mind as well as body and focused on her, which was what they were paid to be. I thanked God for those who looked her in the eye and treated her as the wonderful person she was, rather than a task to be checked off.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

The ONLY excuse that staff member could possibly have is that he was arranging for them to be picked up.

That is the ONLY work related thing he should be on the phone about.

I could not be a caretaker - because I can't focus on another person that long. So I did not choose one of the caring professions.

But this person is being PAID to take care - and is not taking care. But apparently he doesn't mind being seen in public, NOT doing his job.

Ron Arnold said...

My wife is re-reading a book called: How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk. We discuss it. We discuss how its ideas are universal - because the principles outlines in the book apply to EVERYONE.

Sometimes we see our older kids or our friends talking with their kids and it's obvious they turn on 'kid speak' when they're talking to them. It's this slightly elevated, slightly patronizing tone that is utterly aggravating. And I see it a lot. I see it in stores. I see it in schools. I see it on TV. It's everywhere. What REALLY irks me is seeing it in staff that work with folks that have mental health issues, intellectual disabilities, and physical disabilities. It's infuriating.

If your tone is different with different folks - you're coming from a place that is contrived. People (especially kids) are very good at spotting contrived bullshit.

I don't like 'kidspeak' and I don't use it. Ever. Makes all the difference in the world.

Cynthia F. said...

Such a good reminder!

Anonymous said...

I admit that I use a different speaking voice when talking to babies and those up to the age of 3. I believe there are studies to show that the higher pitched, sing-song voice helps them learn.

Yet, I detest those that speak down to children. Sure, we can choose words in their vocabulary, but we should make an effort to speak to them as intelligent beings. They are smarter than a lot of people give them credit for. Ron is right, their bull-meters are working just fine. And people in a position of "power" should never abuse it, never.

I love that line Dave - we communicate what we value all the time. So true!!

Eileen said...

Dave, " We communicate what we value" will be quoted often by me. Thank you.