In a multi-tasking world, it’s hard to do just one thing. I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to juggling several things at once. My brutally honest children are quick to point it out when I answer, ‘Uh,huh” but continue with what I’m doing when they are telling me something. For years C has said, “Mom, look at me and listen with your eyes!” I can’t begin to explain how humbling those words are. In fact, that was part of my motivation when I chose present as my one word for 2013 (https://teachfromtheheart.wordpress.com//?s=one+word&search=Go).

I was reminded of this last week as I walked in the high school with one of my former fifth graders. We exchanged pleasant hellos, and then I said, “How are things going?” Rather than responding with the expected, “Fine, how are you?” She replied, “Do you really want to know or are you just being nice?” I stopped in my tracks. We looked at each other, and both of us laughed.  I told her that as her fifth grade teacher I REALLY did want to know. With that she smiled and rattled off that things were fine, she was a little stressed about exams, but couldn’t wait for graduation. I asked about her plans, and we talked a few more minutes about her college choice (small school out-of-state) and her chosen major (yes, she knows what she wants to do).  The bell rang, and I watched her head to class, marveling at how the shy fifth grader had grown into a confident senior.

As I headed upstairs to my office, I just shook my head and wondered how many conversations I had missed because I did say, “How are things going?” but didn’t stop to listen. I made a mental note to do better, especially here at the end of the school year when things tend to move at warp speed.