This Could Change Your Life, Again
by Guest Author, Amanda Hinson
I was sitting with my four year-old son, and he took my face in his hands, turned my head, and looked at me in the eyes. It was morning, and I hadn't yet checked my emails or phone messages. We stared at each other for a little time in silence, smiling to each other. My mind wondered about what I needed to do today, but then I paused and let myself take the time with my son. I sensed he was feeling loved as I responded to his demand for attention. And then it hit me. What did people do before the Internet? They took the time--they had the time-- to really deeply look into the eyes of those closest to them.
I am a wife and mother of four, and I thought about how we rarely do this exercise of gazing into each other's eyes. We do it so rarely, in fact, my 7 year-old daughter asked the other day, "Mom, what do your eyes look like? I never see them." Again, I took the time to just let us look at each other for a bit, to study each other's eyes, what people once said is the window to our souls. My daughter's big, beautiful, brown eyes are hard to miss, but as I took the time to let her look into my eyes, I could see her gathering the information about me she wanted to know-- I love her, I care about her, she is special to me.
My husband also discovered a new way to communicate with me this week. He learned that he can build intimacy with me by taking the time to look into my eyes for 5-10 full seconds after he has said something pleasant to me. Sounds so simple, but how many times, do we find ourselves rushing out the door and calling, "See ya later, hun!" as we are texting others on social media?
And how many times have we forfeited these chances for building intimacy because we were busy looking somewhere else, like our phone or computer? No wonder today's children are more incessant and angry or annoyed by their parents' online communications. Even if the parents are doing legitimate work or talking to a close friend, most of today's communication requires directing your gaze into a screen rather than yesteryear's holding up a phone to your ear.
I remember when I was a little girl, my parents gave me all kinds of looks-- and I loved the ones that said, "Hi, I am here and listening to you. I love you and want to know how your day was." I remember my father's blue eyes when he talked to us about his work, how they lit up with excitement. It wasn't like he was going to text someone out of state the news, because that was not possible. I'm grateful for that opportunity now, but my dad's own parents might not have heard a single story about his work. We appreciated hearing from Dad, face to face. I still enjoy hearing from Dad on text.
Today, it seems we could give our own parents a play by play of what we're doing all day. But, what of our children? Do they know what we do and what we're excited about? I know mine get a little freaked out when they hear me laughing to myself and see that I had just read a text message. They've told me, they feel left out when that happens. I now always share the text with them aloud before laughing. But still, what am I doing to let them see into my eyes, my heart, what I think is important or noteworthy? If we ever text our kids in the future, will they be able to see my face in their minds talking to them... or will it be a visual of me looking at the screen?
When I got to be an adolescent, I remember what it meant to have a gaze with the boy across the hall. If he looked at me in the eyes, just long enough, I felt swept off my feet right there. I'm sure, for boys too, they melted when a girl would give them even a second of eye contact. As married adults, I haven't stopped needing that gaze from my husband to assure me that he is still interested. And do I give him the time to gaze back and let him melt? Even 10 seconds?
What did we do before computers and fancy androids and iphones? We looked into each others' eyes. Technology sure continues to change and change lives. But let's change again, and start looking at those closest to us. Really, those who are right by us, they need you to look into their eyes. You need them; you need to see what their eyes have been wanting to tell you for a long time.
Susan Dockerill has ten years of teaching children in public, private, and military schools at home and abroad, plus 17 years teaching and mediating with parents and teachers. Susan has the expertise to speak frankly about marriage, divorce, children, and being responsible for living the life of your dreams.
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