When you pick your children up from school and ask them how their day went, what do they say? Mine usually say, “Good.” So I follow with, “What was the best thing that happened?” Sometimes I get lucky with that question but usually I get something pretty superficial like, “I got my homework done in class.” They’ve already shifted gears. They’re ready to play with their friends.
As a parent I want more communication than that. It’s easy to communicate with my 14 yr old because we spend so much time in the car together traveling to basketball tournaments. Extended car time is great “communicate with your kid” time. However, my 12 yr old always has his head in a book. He’s a thinker and not as expressive as his older brother.
Then one day my younger son saw a license plate with the letters: YRUYUR. It prompted the obvious question from me, “So, why are you why you are?” He said, “I am why I am because you are why you are.” Sometimes I think he’s turning into Eddie Haskell.
However, that led to a longer conversation. I told my son that he sounds like a philosopher and should write down his ideas. He said, “You buy the book Mom and I’ll tell you what to write.” So I did. I had no idea how precious this idea would become for me. Now as part of our bedtime routine I pull out his “YRUYUR” journal and ask him the question. He feeds me his random thoughts for the day which often lead to fascinating conversations. The most important part of this process is that he dictates and I write. I’d have nothing if he kept the journal himself.
His journal has raised the bar on our communication…it’s priceless. The first thing he tells me is his “happiness meter” number, how happy he is on a scale of 1-30. Then he either gives me a thought or tells me to ask him a question, which he gladly answers. He enjoys it partly because he knows I think he’s so smart and partly because he’s started to identify himself as a philosopher. He’s in 6th grade and figures by the time he graduates from high school it’ll be a book.
I can only hope that my little philosopher lets me write down his thoughts for that long. I finally know what he’s really thinking. What are you doing to connect with your kids?