I used to know everything my kids did, whether they were in my presence or not — everything — because we all know kids’ “I’m gonna tell you all the things that are swirling in my head right now” game is strong. Too strong. It’s “this is going to take forever” strong. It’s “I’m going to need a shit-ton of caffeine to get through this story” strong.
The thing is, their oversharing mentality fades over time and you are left with nothing but blank stares and shoulder shrugs when you ask about their day. They know nothing about the life they just spent six hours of living. Not a damn thing.
This transition was hard for me. It’s not that I longed to hear how many peas Tommy fit into his nose at lunch, or every detail about the classroom stroll from the library back to their classroom, but to be away from your kids all day, getting a brief recap of how they are spending their time would be nice. I have tried a few things, some a bit desperate I have to admit.
I have bribed.
Really, just to get a little peek into their day would be glorious. It’s not even my inner control freak coming out. I just miss them. I want to be involved. I want to know if they are being an asshole or a kind, respectful student in the classroom. I just want to know if all the blood, sweat, and tears I have poured into their upbringing has worked. So I am not above bribing them with fast food on the way home if they give me little tidbits. This works — for like a week.
I have tried to be casual.
“So, what the latest?” Shoulder shrug.
“So, what’s new in the hood?”
My son literally looked in the hood of his sweatshirt after I asked him this. “What? There is nothing in my hood.”
“So, did you make any new connections today?”
“I have no idea what you mean, Mom. I was at school all day.”
“Tell me your favorite thing that happened today while you were at school.” This one was met with an eye roll.
I have threatened to email teachers.
Of course, I would never do this. How ridiculous. I realize teachers don’t have time for me to check in every day simply because I want to know what my kids did at school, or how they thought their day went. I was just hoping my threats would get them talking.
It did not. It did, however, make them feel even more frustrated, which made them talk even less.
I stopped asking.
For one solid week, I didn’t ask any questions. I didn’t ask about their day. I didn’t pepper them with questions as soon as they got in the car, or during dinner. Nope, not this mama. Surely this would make them start to wonder what was going on and lead to them spilling their guts at pickup time because they couldn’t wait to divulge the details of their exciting days. I would show them.
Only this did not show them anything — except how nice it was to have their mother stop asking them questions. As soon as I started in again, they clammed up even more than before.
None of my clever schemes have worked on any of my children. Finally, I decided to be more direct and just ask them why they won’t talk about their school day. I was met with a very simple answer.
“I just can’t, Mom. I have been there all day; I don’t even want to think about it once I’m home.”
And just like that, I began to understand. As much as I want to know what my kids are up to, I shouldn’t be offended they are not offering up more information.
It’s not that they don’t want to let me in (okay, maybe it’s a little bit that), or that they are harboring major secrets. They just don’t have the energy left over to fully debrief me on the past six hours of their day.
It’s probably the same way I used to feel after working a full day. I would come home and need to put some distance between my work and personal life. I certainly didn’t want to give everyone a run down of my boring ass day.
The good news? When they do something really amazing, they are sure to let me know. And when they fuck up, their teachers are (thankfully) sure to let me know.
As much as I would like to know more, I will take what I can get.