Last night I came across a great post on Facebook. The Facebook post encouraged us to sit down with our child, ask certain questions without any prompting, and then to repost the questions and answers along with our child's name and age. My friend posted her 12-year-old son's answers. They were so funny and endearing that I decided to do the exercise with my children.
I sat down separately with each of my children to find out their answers because I did not want them to influence each other. Initially, both kids were nervous about getting the answers "right." I had to explain to them there was no right or wrong answer and that I just wanted to see what they thought.
Here's how my Q and A went with my 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter:
1. What is something I always say to you?
Son: Sit down while eating (So true).
Daughter: Go to sleep.
2. What makes me happy?
Son: "Us" (Awww).
Daughter: Playing with our dogs.
3. What makes me sad?
Son: When we go with Dad for a long time.
Daughter: Being sick and having to cancel plans.
4. How do I make you laugh?
Son: Tickling me with Mr. Finger.
Daughter: Showing me cute puppy photos.
5. What was I like as a child?
6. How old am I?
Both: 43 (Correct)
7. How tall am I? (I'm 5' 9")
Son: 6 feet
Daughter: 100 inches
8. What is my favorite thing to do?
Daughter: Get your nails done.
9. What do I do when you're not around?
Daughter: Go to lunch or to a movie, go on a walk.
10. What am I really good at?
11. What is something I'm not good at?
Son: Letting us have pizza every night.
Daughter: Letting us have candy.
12. What do I do for a job?
Daughter: Help people make movies.
13. What is my favorite food?
Son: Donuts (Bonus points!)
14. What do you enjoy doing with me?
Son: Going to see Star Wars.
Daughter: Going to the park or getting our nails done (More bonus points).
Their responses brought such a smile to my face and really touched me. After we finished, I had one of those "light bulb" parenting moments. Why, you ask? Well, it was a great way to see how they view me and the world. Apparently, they feel deprived when it comes to their pizza and candy consumption. On a more serious note, I learned a few things from our conversation.
First of all, the exercise reaffirms my long held personal belief in the importance of having good communication with my children. It is not a matter of sitting down and talking TO them, but rather it is important to talk WITH them and really listen to what they have to share. My children are still very young, but I think this holds true no matter what age the child is. I hope that I am setting a strong foundation for our future together.
Secondly, I was surprised by how observant my children are, even when it comes to what I think of as subtleties. I couldn't believe my ears when my son answered question number 3 ("What makes me sad?") with the response, "When we go with Dad for a long time." He's right: it does make me sad. But since my family's divorce in 2012, I thought that I had been doing a good job at hiding this fact from them. I have tried to be upbeat, smile and energetically kiss them goodbye when they leave, even though inside my heart breaks to see them go. I have tried to encourage them to have fun with their father and let them know that I am doing ok while they are gone. However, it turns out that I haven't been so good at hiding my real feelings from them. Last night was a wake up call to do a better job of shielding them. I want them to enjoy their time with their father without feeling conflicted, worried or guilty about it.
In addition, our conversation made me realize just how lucky I am to have children who know me so well. Because I'm single, I just assume that no one knows me as well as my ex husband once did. I miss that aspect of coupledom (Oh, woe is me). In actuality though, I do have people in my life that know me well. This especially holds true when it comes to my children. I am fortunate in this respect, and I really need to stop hyper-focusing on what I am missing out on by being single.
Finally, this exercise cemented for me the idea that there is simply nothing better than looking at the world from a child's perspective. The little things matter to them. Our children offer us their awareness, innocence and optimism. Correct me if I am wrong, but couldn't all of us use a little bit more of this in our life?