Monday, February 21, 2011

Silent Messages

"Sit," the trainer said. I started to sit then realized she was talking to puppy, Millie. Training. The dog or the master?

"We will eventually command the dog only through hand signals," she went on as I dusted off my jeans. Silent messages.

Life is full of silent messages. The roll of the eyes. The exhalation of breath. Turning a back, looking away, shirking a touch. So silent. So deadly. Yes, they train.

When my granddaughters were just babies, we taught them to sign for 'eat' and 'more'. They are born with the natural sign for 'up'. Silent signals. We listened. They were just babies.

Years ago I was sent to training for high school counselors. We were roll playing. One person took on the role of teacher while the rest of us took on the roles of students. I had worked with kids at risk. I had been a lost and lonely child. I was an actress. This was right up my alley.

I slowly edged toward my teacher no matter how much she tried to find her space away from me. I didn't look at her. My advances were barely noticeable. We finished the exercise. Discussion began.

"Pam, you were the silent child. Thank you." she said. "We cannot overlook the silent child."

My phone rings. "Hi, Grammy," a small voice says. The conversation doesn't move on. I know from the few words and the softness of the voice that something is up. Might as well head right into it.

"What's up, Honey?" I ask. "Everything okay?"

Silence follow by, "Uh, huh."

Well, I know something is up so continue the questions. Still no headway.

"Do you want me to come over?" I ask.

"Uh, huh," she answers.

I crawl into her bed and just hold her. Soon the anger and hurt surface and the well begins to empty. She had no words for her pain. I was the doorway. I just needed to find the door.

We all send silent messages. We sit close. We hold a hand. We are really good at the cold shoulder. Sure we can send them, but do we realize what we are sending? Are we really able to read them?

Silent messages.