Our job is not to know each other explicitly.
I think I know my daughters, and then they say something that obliterates the structure of what I know, what I thought were their limitations and their understanding of this world and themselves.
And when this happens, I know I've gotten lazy. By the time they are able to articulate the thought in words, they have already known for a while. They've been working to understand the knowing and translate it from thought to expression. But I should have known. I should have seen this knowing coming, or at the very least I should have been aware of the shift, of the coming knowing.
I've watched them learn all their lives. I've watched them come to know things, and unknow them, and reknow them. At what point do we cease to be curious about the stages of knowing our beautiful, insightful, bright, awe-inspiring kids experience? At what age do we stop paying attention to their discoveries?
When do we stop exploring our own stages of knowing and discovery?
By not paying attention to our own stages of discovery, we come to take for granted that inherent connection with our kids and our loved ones. We assume that knowing them will be delivered in an explicit and timely and succinct and crystal clear expression of thought. We assume that knowing comes from proximity. But when do we ourselves ever understand our own thoughts in that way? Never!
No one ever fully translates a feeling into words for themselves. We get close. We get comfortable with approximations. And we agree to communicate using these approximations. But that can quickly lead to complacency when we aren’t making sure we know what others mean when they use certain words.
The collective definitions we think we know are not exact. They are exacting.
Our job is not to know each other explicitly. To know each other, to know anything, is to constantly work to know it. Knowing anything requires hard work.
As parents, our job is to exercise extreme patience as our kids work through their stages of knowing, and to be at peace with the unknowing. We have to allow them to step into a darkness we do not know. Just because we think we know the path and believe in our sense of light and dark, doesn’t mean we know what’s best for them.
We have to know our kids are capable of seeing light where we cannot.
They know this. They know they see what we cannot. They know the hope is alive and thriving and growing within them. And they will continue to believe in this knowing and themselves as long as we do not force what we think we know upon them.