Like any parent, I want my children to feel like they can talk to me. I want them to feel comfortable running things by me, talking through situations. Generally chit chatting about their days. At least, that’s what I maintain on my Mom resumé. The truth is that often those times I am ready, willing and able to lend an ear seem to be the times when they:
A. Have nothing to say;
B. Are sneakily withholding certain information for ransom;
C. Content to answer my provocative and thoughtful prompts with grunts and eye rolls.
There are exceptions to this rule of course. I realized this the other evening as I was reaching for my keys, coat and make-up on for a night out, when someone suddenly developed the need to open their heart to me, to spill their deepest, darkest fears. To tell me about the girlfriend they seemingly acquired overnight or a newly developed paralyzing fear or whatever it happened to be that time.
Well played children. Well played.
Why is it my children only seem to want to have a heart to heart when I’m running out the door or laden with an armful of heavy groceries?
Or at bedtime, when I’ve got my finger on the button to watch the Game of Thrones finale I’ve been trying to watch for a week while avoiding all spoilers on the internet;
Or when they’re pooping;
Or in the bike lane during rush hour when there are crazy Danes in lycra coming up the inside and cars whoosing by on the outside;
Or in the middle of the night when I find one of them staring at me like some child horror movie actor by the side of the bed;
Or trying to hear the GPS when we’re lost and already half an hour late;
Or when I’m in the shower shaving my bikini line;
Or when I’m on the phone having reached a human being after being on hold for forty minutes;
Or when they’re supposed to be doing their homework;
Or with a mouthful of food;
Or before I’ve had my first cup of coffee;
Or in the middle of a conversation with anyone else??
Maybe they do it because they know chances are I’ll only be half listening and they’ll be able to get away with something. Maybe they’re afraid of my reaction or afraid of their own feelings or even afraid of their own questions, so they choose these listening (but not listening) times to test the waters.
Hey, if she’s banging pots and pans around like a camper trying to scare off a bear, she’s probably not listening to me tell her that I got in trouble at school or that I asked a girl to the dance or found a hair growing down there…
So the next time I’m cooking dinner and one of them is sitting on the toilet chatting away about their day, I’ll try to listen more and listen better. But honestly, as they get older and the space between their bedtime and mine gets compressed, there’s only a small window of time in which I can watch grown up shows like Game of Thrones and Bloodline.
So boys take note: save your truest heart to hearts for rerun season and we’ll all be good.