Teaching our Children to Value Quiet

Quiet is different from silence. Quiet includes the gentle noises of a child sounding out a word in their picture book, a violin playing on the radio, the crunch of leaves underfoot, humming while stirring soup in the kitchen, dogs snoring at your feet, the myriad of sounds of life awake and present.  

Quiet is a practice in mindfulness. My daughter spreads a blanket over our cold toes. She slips her tiny feet in between mine, settles down against my side and we read together for the better part of the morning. My son goes for a long run. He returns with a beautiful picture of the lake taken on his cell phone. 

Later, my daughter pulls her chair into a patch of sun in the carpet. She curls her legs under her and watches the birds dart back and forth outside our window. In the evening, Chris and I go downstairs. We light a fire in the fireplace, sip hot cocoa and read.

We are teaching our children to value quiet. Our Saturday mornings are slow. Chris and I sip coffee and catch up on our reading. Lilah colors in her sketch book. James reads a novel in the red chair. Cello music plays in the background. Blueberry bead warms in the oven. Carving out quiet moments in our plugged in and hurried world requires intentionality. Oftentimes, we try to fill the space with noise, but if you pause and observe, you’ll find most spaces are already filled, splendidly.

We practice pausing and observation. We point out the lady bug crawling across the deck, the taste of mint leaves in our strawberry salad, the way evening light catches in the trees. We walk together often. Our children know the curves of our neighborhood, the turns in the trail, the ever changing lake. We observe the rise and fall of the water line, we notice the new animals who build temporary homes in the soft grass when the pond dries out.

We let our children delight in the wonders they discover. On the weekends, James stays up late enamored in a book, his book light glowing underneath his door. Lilah strings beads, quietly singing, swinging her feet under her, as the morning light changes to afternoon.

Mindfulness is a habit that takes practice. Without it though, we’d miss miss the first blush of leaves in the fall, the first daffodils in the spring, the moment when the dog falls asleep while I am writing. The more we practice, the more we need these moments. My daughter, who is two, already retreats to her room to rock in her chair or read books in her bed, sometimes for hours. James plays soft, sweet music on his clarinet, practicing the same riff over and over until the notes lay smooth.

It is a crisp evening. Spring is in the air, but winter still hangs on the wind. My daughter slides her small hand into mine. We look out at the lake together. The sun sinks low. All of a sudden, the birds take flight. She tries to count them, but there are too many.  

Wishing you and yours warmth and light, KFW

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