Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Listen Up

When John was about three, he started saying a lot of really cool stuff. I didn't have this blog yet so I had to write them down on little scraps of paper that I've been pretty good at keeping in one place. He used to say things like, "What's the shiningest star? Maybe it's God!" and "The flowers dance when I water them!" and "The sun is my favorite star because it makes pictures for me when it sets."

He said a lot of funny things, too. When Maia was born, Matt and I were going through a rough money patch and battling unemployment. John must have picked up on that, because a few weeks after she was born, John came into the kitchen as I was making supper and said reassuringly, "I'm proud we're making money and we'll be able to keep Maia!"

So from about that time, when he opened his mouth, I listened, because I could bank on something good coming out of it.

As he got older and started school, he liked to talk about his day. If he was feeling down or something was bothering him, he would share it. If he had something weighing on his conscience, it usually worked itself out of his mouth eventually whether he wanted it to or not. He's a talker.

Now that he's approaching the very, very slight beginnings of adolescence, I figured we'd get to the point where he'd stop talking and sharing. Which is fine; I'm ready for that. Or I tell myself I'm ready for that. But in the meantime, I think I've figured out why kids stop talking to their parents.

It's a simple reason: It's because when kids hit nine or 10, they start spouting facts that parents don't find interesting. And so they respond with an "oh, really? Huh" and that's it. If people responded that way to me when I said something I thought was cool, I'd stop talking, too. I figured this out when I really listened, the other day, to what John was telling me. It usually fell in one of the following categories:

1. The property of a character from Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, or any other card game. Example: "Mom! MOM! There's this one card? Divine Wrath? Well, it's actually a spell, not a creature, you know? And if it's played on a clear field it can't be defeated."
2. The reconstruction of a scene from Spongebob, Avatar, or Chowder. Example: "Mom! MOM! There was this one part in Spongebob where Patrick was, um, he was all dressed like a pirate, you know? And he had, um, two patches over both his eyes."
3. A math fact. Example: "Mom! MOM! Did you know that the square root of 2 is one-point-one-four-one-four-two-one-three-five-six..."
4. A complaint about his sister. Example: "Mom! MOM! Maia is all in my face when I'm trying to read! MOM!"

I'm not quite sure what made me realize how much I was saying, "Really? I didn't know that" and then letting the conversation end just because what he was saying wasn't interesting to me. I'm trying to be better at asking him why he finds those things interesting or funny, but without being an analyst-parent, thusly: "WHY are two patches funny to you? What do YOU think is important about Divine Wrath?"

I also took this picture of him a couple weeks ago. He's been asking me to teach him how to knit, and he's picking it up pretty well. I like this picture because he's still wearing his hockey jersey from the last game of the season, and he's also sticking his tongue out because he's working so hard.

It reminds me of one of my favorite posters. You can tell from their faces that not all the boys are necessarily interested in violin music, but they're giving the kid their attention until he's done. And that, at the very least, is what I can do for John.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Wow does he look grown up. My little baby boy isn't ever going to be that big is he?

  3. I've got some tough news for you.

  4. Sharikov3:41 PM

    Wow - what do you have to do to get removed by a blog administrator? That guy is my hero!

  5. Any time you want to post huge comments in Chinese about erotic websites, you just go ahead and knock yourself out.

  6. Sharikov10:28 PM

    Hmm. I could do a post in Pig-latin about exotic travel destinations. If it was in Chinese, how did you know what it was about?

  7. I totally googled it.

  8. And then google translated it.

  9. My brother has yet to live down the time he, as a five-year-old, answered a friend of my parents' query "What should I name my baby?" with the very solemn response of "How about Patches?"

    And good call on avoiding Analytical Parent Mode. That would sap all the joy out of everything for me.