The Listening Face

My daughter has this look she does when she’s listening. Her eyes stare off in another direction, her mouth opens slightly, and not a muscle in her face moves. You can almost see the gears turning, as if a drawer from a massive towering file cabinet in her head is creaking open.

I get a little nervous when I see her Listening Face because I don’t want to mess up the opportunity. It’s like a trance; once she’s in it, everything is being recorded. But then once she realizes it’s happening, the trance fades, the possession is over. And it’s me, the blabbering parent – so conscious of my impact – who is the thing that is most likely to break the spell.

Now, the paradox: The biggest mistake I can make is to try and keep that filing cabinet open.

TRYING will ruin the moment, kill the trance, and close the drawer. Teenagers can spot a TRY from a mile away. It’s a superpower they have.

The absolute best thing I can do is to just keep talking, knowing that she’s in charge of the file cabinet and the lever for the gears, not me.

It’s not my job to determine what’s important. It’s my job to keep the files coming. She knows better than I what she needs and where to put it so she can find it later when her humanity is at stake and I’m not around.

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