Though my son could always talk from about the time a person is supposed to be able to talk, for many years he did not talk that well, and sometimes not at all – at least not to us. Mostly he talked to himself, and even then in what sounded like the kind of shorthand one employs whenever there is no audience within earshot to consider. Being his father, I of course wanted to help him learn to talk. I considered myself an expert on the activity, and so I talked and talked to him so he could see how it was done. This helped a little, but not much. I also instructed – I told him how to talk. This also helped a little, though perhaps even less. I also complained, scolded, groused, ignored, fumed, and punished. I don’t think any of these helped at all.
Yet at fourteen I find he is now every bit the talker his mother, father, and brother are, and I have decided it wasn’t my talking or teaching or complaining that helped; rather, it was my listening. To listen with sincere curiosity is to you say, Teach me why what you are feeling and thinking is interesting, and as you are taught, the speaker teaches himself by listening closely to what he wishes to share.
And so my son taught himself to speak, and my listening perhaps reminded him that what he had to say was worth saying. To believe otherwise is to condemn ourselves to a useless silence, keeping safe from the world what was only given to us to be shared.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.