The other day during our session about the Middle East (this post is not about the Middle East) I mentioned to Emma that I’d recently read a memoir, I am Malala written by Malala Yousafzai. Malala is Pakistani and was shot by the Taliban when she was just 15 years old because she wanted to be able to go to school and have an education. Emma then wrote, “Was she alive after they shot her?”
It was all I could do not to jump up and down with exuberant glee that Emma wrote me this question. It wasn’t the specifics of the question that made me so excited, it was that it was a question at all. You see, Emma has never asked me a question like this before. This is the sort of question she regularly asks Soma, but not me. In fact, I just wrote about exactly this, a few weeks ago while Emma and I were visiting Soma. You can read that post ‘here‘. The question Emma asked is the sort of question I’ve barely dared hope for. It is the kind of question most people take completely for granted. Asking a question like this is the beginning of a conversation. It requires a different kind of thought process than answering does. It requires initiating a line of thinking. It is the beginning of a back and forth that we talkers do not often contemplate, but do without thinking.
I know Emma has many questions just like this one, but she is not able to easily communicate them. This is different from in the past when I was caught in that great abyss of believing that because she didn’t ask questions, she wasn’t interested. That old way of thinking was so detrimental to her and to our relationship. The belief that things were not being expressed because they did not exist was so destructive, not just to Emma, her self esteem and growth, but to all of our interactions. Instead, this was a moment of celebration. A moment when I just sat in utter admiration of my daughter.
Presuming competence. Those two words hold so much meaning within them. Every day I make tiny inroads, little steps forward in presuming competence, going just a little further in my ability to stretch my thinking so that I am embracing this concept just a bit more. And as I do my daughter is showing me over and over that I have still farther to go. This process is one of such joy, wonder and unbridled excitement. My husband, Richard and I discuss this all the time. How fortunate are we that we have the opportunity to expand our awareness on a daily basis? How exciting is it that we are in a process of constantly re-evaluating what we think we know?
“Was she alive after they shot her?” Emma asked.
“Yes! She lived and now has written this book,” I answered, showing her the cover. “Should we read it together?”
“Yes,” Emma replied.