Thursday, June 12, 2014


"You're not listening to me."

It was the end of the day and three-year-old "Daniel" was trying to get almost six-year-old "Luca's" attention.

"Luca, you're not listening to me."

I don't know if Luca was actually hearing Daniel or not. He was sort of running around him, drawing near, then darting away, then drawing near again.

"I'm talking to you, Luca, but you're not listening to me."

I couldn't quite imagine that Luca was intentionally ignoring the younger boy. He has a younger brother of his own who he generally treats respectfully, as an equal even. I tend to think he was too wrapped up in his own game to notice Daniel.

"Luca, you're not listening to me and I want you to listen to me."

I admired not only Daniel's persistence, but his use of language, and not just that he was speaking clearly and loudly enough. He wasn't raising his voice with each subsequent comment, but rather varying his words each time, trying to instead discover an exact word combination that would best arrest the older boy's attention.

"I have something I want to say to you, Luca. I want you to listen to me."

Luca looped around Daniel again, but still without any indication one way or another if he knew his attentions were being requested.

"If you listen to me, I have something to tell you."

The older boy was passing the younger closely enough that Daniel could have easily reached out and grabbed him as he went by, but he didn't. He could have started shouting, but he didn't. He could have resorted to threats or coercements or bribes or just given up, but he didn't do any of those things either. Instead, he stuck to clear, informative statements, varying his words each time in the hope that he could find the key to open the lock he wanted opened, to get through to this boy who was too immersed in his own game to listen.

What I think I was hearing were echoes of the way the important adults in Daniel's life speak to him.

"If you stop running, Luca, you'll be able to hear what I want to say to you."

By now I could see a tear of frustration starting to form in Daniel's eye, but still he stuck with what he knew about speaking effectively and respectfully to the other human beings.

I said, not more loudly, but with the inevitable authority of being the adult in charge of things, "Luca, Daniel wants to talk to you." Luca stopped, saying softly, "Oh," then turned to the younger boy, "What did you want to say?"

"Luca, I'm going home now, so bye."

And Luca answered, "So, bye! See you tomorrow!"

As Luca retuned to his game, Daniel turned to me and said, "Bye, Teacher Tom! See you tomorrow!"

"See you tomorrow!"

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Papa Green Bean said...

I love this story. The insightful perception of Luca modeling his parents with so much patience, perseverance, and respect is an incredible display. Thank you for sharing.

Could I link to this in my blog?

John S Green

Teacher Tom said...

Thank you, John! Of course, please link.

Papa Green Bean said...

Thanks, Teacher Tom... sometime in the next week.

Papa Green Bean said...


Here is my post with you!