Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bigger Picture Moment: Listening hat

Welcome to the Bigger Picture Moments, where we breathe in and find the beauty of
the bigger picture.

Bigger Picture Moment

We hope you've found some time to internalize and write your Bigger Picture Moment this week. Join us by linking up to your post {not your main blog page} below, link back to us in your post, and then spend some time enjoying the other moments.

Sarah is hosting our link-up next week, so be sure to be aware of all the little moments in which the bigger picture is hiding during this next week.

All of the groups were in the big gym for closing songs and a prayer when I walked in to pick up my almost 3 year old from his very first day of Vacation Bible School.

{He turns 3 in one week. Hold me.}

G. really wanted to go to school, and he realy wanted to have his own teacher along with his own class.

Because I'm going to be doing preschool with him this fall at home and possibly homeschooling him thereafter, VBS is probably the closest he'll get to a school situation for quite a few years. So I agreed to let him go.

We went over a few guidelines during the weeks leading up to the start day {Be kind, obey your teachers, treat others the way you want to be treated}, and then I released him into the care of his teachers bright and early Monday morning.

Upon pick up, I remained behind a computer so as to shield myself from his view and observe {spy} on G.

He sat relatively calmly on one of his teacher's laps as the leaders closed the day in song and prayer; it was then that I noticed he was wearing a sailor hat --very fitting for the ocean theme around which VBS is centered this year.

And then I realized he was the ONLY one wearing a hat.

If you've been around here for awhile, you know G. has more hats than he could wear in a month. He just loves them. So I figured he'd probably found it and clung to it.

When I greeted him, he proudly showed me his hat.

"Look at my special hat!" he said, quite visibly proud and excited.

Could it be, I'd thought, that maybe he got to wear the hat for displaying exemplory behavoir?

He was so excited about it. And he said it was the "special" hat. On his first day of VBS and being away from mommy, was my son really recognized and rewarded for his grand behavoir?

{Dreams totally inflated.}

I exlaimed over the hat, totally assuming the very best.

He then walked over to his group's bucket, and proceeded to remove the hat from his head because he knew the rules: "You can't take it home mommy. It has to stay here."

As he put the special hat back, I asked one of his teachers how G.'s day went because at just very barely 3, he was the youngest in attendance.

"He's a very active little boy," she said.

The sirens of teacher talk started blaring in my head.

I was a teacher once.

Decoded: "Your son drove me freakin' nuts because he wouldn't stay put in one spot during any of the activities."

"Ah, yes," I said, realizing my first assessment of the hat was very wrong. "He's very curious, and he likes to explore."

"That's why he's wearing the hat," she shared. "It's his listening hat. He can wear it only if he listens."

{Dreams. Dashed. Wah Wah Wah.}

My kid was the one who needed the listening hat.

So it was like that.

"I see," I said. "We'll talk about listening and staying with the group today when we get home."

"The hat worked pretty well," she offered, her words clearly a show of sympathy, as she could tell my unreasonable mommy heart had been a little bruised because my little one's actions had not met my expectations.

Seeing my unreassured face, the other teacher added, "Really, he did very well after he put the hat on. He just needed that little reminder."

I glanced over at my smiling, green-eyed, nearly 3 year old who was proudly, gently placing his special hat in the bucket all while reminding myself that he's still very much {only just barely} 3.

{Enter epiphany in the middle of a crowded noisy gym.}

And his wearing the hat? It wasn't something to be appologized for or something that was worn as a symbol of disobedience {or worse, in my eyes, unmet expectations}; rather it was something to be celebrated because at the end of 3 hours during his first day of VBS, he was still wearing the hat!

And that meant he not only listened to his teachers, but he also had a little problem and {with help} he found a way to solve it.

But most importantly, it meant that he had internalized something, which would open the door for talking about why his little heart so desired to disobey his teachers.

{Dreams altered. And for the better.}

Because a listening hat isn't an idicator of what my little guy has done wrong; rather, it's an shining example of turning a not-so-good situation into a better one.

And it's a stunning reminder that forces me to really listen, too.

I need to hear what my little ones' hearts are saying rather than just "fixing" their outward actions. We need to work on the heart of our issues, focus on the conditions of our hearts, so that our actions are a reflection of our hearts.

Perhaps, I need my own listening hat, too.


  1. listening to their little hearts really is the key, isn't it? i know it's easy to make discipline about obedience/disobedience, when my little one wants to be seen and heard and cherished.

    3 hours is a lot of structure for a not-yet-three-year-old. it sounds like he handled himself well:)

  2. how wonderful for your little guy that you were able to change your view of the listening hat. It's hard to let them go out in the world without us, but when we believe in them they feel it.
    That he was able to keep the hat on and keep listening for 3 hours? that is amazing, after all he is still young.

  3. Great post! I think maybe we all need a listening hat.

  4. Hyacenth- Our boys could be cosmic twins. He's almost 3, he loves hats, and he needs a listening hat as well. Ha!

    But I get it. We shouldn't assume the worst. We need listening hats, too. Domo loves to say "But mama-" and explain himself when I'm not listenin. He sounds sooo cute when he uses the word mama in a different tone. The tone is one that says... "listen to me!"

    I get this. I get this all too well.

  5. You are amazing. Your little guy will wind up being a great listener.

  6. Aww, little guy! I feel so proud of him. Being not-quite-3, I'm sure it's hard for him to sit still for a long time (especially if he learns by doing or moving, as opposed to being an auditory learner), but it sounds like to him, he was offered a reward for listening and he was able to listen with that motivation sitting atop his head.
    What a little sweetheart you have and big props to you on your first day leaving him with a teacher too.

  7. Have you ever read Shepherding a Child's Heart? I need to read it again, to remind myself not just to address behavior, but to address heart issues. Thanks for the reminder! :)

  8. Oh man, I needed to read this. Somehow, your posts always speak directly to my heart as a mama.

    And yippee that he was able to wear the hat the whole time! What a great reinforcement tool!

  9. Your words toward the end, about the heart issues, reminded me of the book "Shepherding a child's heart"...I only read the first few chapters...I might pick it back up again. Thanks for sharing, your words always seem to touch my heart..

  10. Okay i am soooo going to go buy my kids a listening hat. what a great idea! and so happy for your little guy that he was able to keep it on all day! Excellent!

  11. ok, finally all linked up. i had trouble with the linky earlier...and didn't have time to sort it out. just got home and no probs this time.

    and my whole house could use listening hats.
    me especially!

  12. Your post really spoke to my heart. It was a reminder to listen to those around me – not just to their words/actions – but for the reasons behind them. Last night, when my youngest niece was being exceptionally whiney, I thought of your post and took a moment to really assess the situation and discover why she was having such a difficult time.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom and insight.


There's nothing better than good conversation ... but not while talking to myself. Will you play a part in this discussion?

AND will you pretty please have your email linked to your account or leave it for me so I can respond?

Thanks for taking the time to make these thoughts into conversation.