How was school? Fine. What'd you do? Nothing
I get nothing out of my kids at the end of the school day, and it makes me so sad. I see so many kids who chatter away about their day and it drives their mothers nuts, I'm sure, but I'm jealous. I've tried the tricks of asking questions like "Did anything funny happen?" or "Did anyone get in trouble?" or any kind of unusual question to get them talking. They see me coming a mile away and clam up even more.
Is it a boy thing?
This article in Parenting magazine had some tips, from a tactful game of 20 questions to indirect questions like "If a genie gave you three wishes right now, what would they be? And if the genie could erase three things that really worry you, what would those be?"
I'm not sure that would work. They know I'm a newspaper reporter and if anyone distrusts the mainstream media more than Sarah Palin, it's my kids. They know I have an agenda when it comes to them.
Another suggestion was to never speak directly to a school-aged kid and expect more than a one or two-word answer. Try talking to him while you're next to him, engaged in something else or when you're in the car. But never make eye contact. So, it sounds like there's a fine line between a tweener boy and a rabid dog?
I did make some progress recently thanks to the Simpsons (and don't start beating me up about letting my kids watch the Simpsons, I've got bigger fish to fry here, people!). We were watching the show and I asked him who the Bart was in his class, and then I asked who the Lisa was, and then who was the Ralph, which he thought was really funny and actually started talking about his classmates and the different personalities, which he never has before.
One suggestion in the Parenting article that did work was a little drastic: carpool. I have to admit when I have a car full of kids I can fade in the background and find out a lot. But carpool is not for sissies.
~ Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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