Kids, kids, kids! I have 3, they’re amazing. I love them to bits and would do anything for them. When they were younger they were so dependant on me. They needed help to dress, eat or wipe their bottoms! I thought as they got older they would need me less but I’m actually finding the reverse. I’m more acutely aware how my behaviour influences theirs. I feel even more responsibility to help them develop into nice young people ready to go out into the world alone. They’re spending more time away from me and I wonder whether they’re acting in the way that I’m trying to equip them to. How do they deal with conflict? Are their manners good? Are they considerate of their friends?
When they were tiny I was with them in all manner of situations. I knew if they’d had an altercation at playgroup because I’d watched it. If they hadn’t said thank you to a friend’s mum when offered a snack then I knew because I was there. If something had upset them I was there to wipe away the tears and give them a hug.
Things are different now. So many of their life experiences are when I’m absent. I find that hard. Now I’m reliant on what they tell me. Ask the boys how their day at school was and you get ‘alright’ as their answer. My daughter is slightly more forthcoming but they all seem to find it hard to answer the question.
My new tactic is to ask more specific, interesting questions and the answers I get are so much more informative. I’m asking questions like “Who made you laugh today?” “What was the best thing that happened?” “Did you have any bad bits?” I get such different answers! Out come the stories of who was nasty to who in the playground and this leads onto discussions about their own feelings. Their tales of the funny bits make us all laugh and I learn about their friendship groups. I’m getting a real insight into what their day has actually been like and how they might feel.
Such a simple thing, asking the “How was your day?” question in a different way. If I’d stuck with the original I’d be missing so much that’s going on in their little lives.
I’m doing my best to arm them with what they need for life. What I have learnt is that I should trust them, being exposed to difficult situations is part of growing up. It’s how they react that matters.
I think I’m doing ok and my after school chats have become one of the highlights of my day.