The Power of the Unspoken Word

The Power of the Unspoken Word

This column first appeared on Nanahood. Take a peek and let me know what you think.

My best—always,

Becky  (Nana B)

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The Power of the Unspoken Word

As a new Nana, I’m continually surprised by the different perspectives I’m gaining about children. It’s as if Nanahood has given me a second chance to look back beyond the hectic and seemingly unending (at least at the time) cycle of diapers and feedings and dressing and changing and work and home and just getting through. This time, I can enjoy it a little more deeply. This time, I can reflect.

This time, I can cherish it all.

One of my favorite writers, Mark Nepo, writes in his meditation, “Yearnings,” from his Book of Awakenings:

“We speak before we speak, with eyes and lips, in how we tip our heads . . . We tell our whole story before we open our mouths. Yet we frequently pretend that nothing is conveyed . . . and deny what we learn before words.”

Indeed. We learn so much before words.

Grandbabies remind us of this, again and again. In fact, we cling to it—what their eyes say, what their smiles say. And, oh my, was that a giggle? Or just gas? We search for ways to ascribe meaning to every non-verbal cue these darlings are willing to give us.

But the evidence is never stronger than when they interact with other children.

Yes! We learn so much before words.

I marvel at what my granddaughter taught me in this one video clip. About presence and undivided attention. About engaging fully in the moment, despite the unknown. About the sheer delight of learning, especially with a new friend.

Most important, this little one has reminded me about the fascinating role of unspoken communication and its power to connect us, teach us, and yes, even transform us.

Did I notice this miracle of learning with my own four children? If I did, I don’t recall it. I wonder if I was even paying attention. I was probably worrying about what I was going to make for dinner, or adding wipes to the grocery list, or dealing with that dirty diaper that really needed to go out to the garage trash.

And this, the not being distracted and getting to simply take it all in, is the beauty of Nanahood.

We know these small stages are short-lived. That soon babbling and then words and then sentences will replace these precious miraculous moments of unspoken learning.

But on the second time around, we get to savor them.