You want to know something I’m superrrrr guilty of? 

Do, tell, Caroline, yes, do tell, you say? 

I’m super guilty of assessing a situation and feeling confident that I’ve totally got it figured out — when I don’t.

Like this one time we were staying at a hotel back when I just had three Collies toddling around me. Our room was on the ground floor but the eldest begged for an elevator ride, so I promised after breakfast we’d go ride the elevator. 

No big deal until kid #2 began blubbering something that sounded like “I don’t want to ride the elevator!!!” Ya know, super loud, while we stood in front of the elevator doors.  

Surrounded by other people. 

Within view and earshot of everyone still enjoying the breakfast in the hotel restaurant. 

I discussed this problem with the eldest, who felt it necessary to remind me of my promise at breakfast. 

Next, I tried explaining to #2 the fact that those people weren’t disappearing — the doors were opening to let them out on other floors. We could go up and come back down again. It would be so fun. 

He remained skeptical and unconvinced. 

Finally, with #3 on my hip, I took a knee to get on eye level with #2. I asked a question, trying to figure out what was at the root of this sheer terror. I was met with definite clarity when he cried out:


I don’t want to ride the alligator!!!

Now it all made sense. I could’ve sat there another half an hour, explaining the engineering behind elevators to my two year old. Gears and lifts and pulleys and shiny buttons that light up when you press them.

But the communication he needed was completely different.

He just needed his Mama to explain with great articulation that the word “elevator” and the word “alligator” are different.

Proverbs is pretty good at calling us out on our human condition. It speaks to our communication struggles with striking clarity.

What if we all took five today to check in our how we’re doing with communication? Check out these three points straight from Proverbs, well illustrated in the elevator/alligator experience.

  1. Communication is Dialogue, Not Monologue
    Save the soliloquy for the shower or the stage. Communication has to be a two-way-street or it will always dead end.
  2. Focus on Truly Understanding
    The verdict is in: fools only care about being heard. It takes wisdom to really listen.
  3. Be Slow to Speak
    When I’m rushing to say something, it often turns out that I don’t have the most useful things to say. We need to give others time to form their thoughts and opinions, and we honestly need to do the same for ourselves, to hear our own hearts, and then to consider what’s there in light of God’s Truth.

You know what’s crazy about listening? It’s an inexpensive gift to give, that can feel like a precious treasure to the person receiving it. We all want to be heard. It makes us feel like we matter. It makes us feel more connected and more understood.

Give someone the gift of listening today! And may your elevators be elevators, and your alligators, alligators.

P.S. If you’re struggling to tell elevators from alligators with your kids, I’d love to share some resources with you that have worked for us. To see them, click here!

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