I was trying to get my son to go to sleep last night. This is NOT easy to do. He got my night owl genes so going to be when everyone else does is hard. He’s just not tired yet. And being three that means he makes a lot of noise and wants a lot of attention during that window. So when he started to tell me something, my instinct was to shut him down–to reminder him (again) that he’s supposed to be laying quietly in his bed.
But just in time I remembered something important: If I want my kids to tell me what’s going on in their world when they’re teenagers, I need to listen to what’s going on in their world long before they’re teenagers.
Evan just HAD to tell me something. So–this time–I did a good job asking what it was.
“Spencer [a boy in his pre-K class at school], he, he, he [searching for the words]…he got a Power Ranger costume!”
This was said with great importance. In Evan’s world, you can’t get much cooler than the Power Rangers.
“Whoah!” I correctly responded.
“Yeah,” Evan continued, saving the best part for last. “And it is a RED costume!”
“Power Rangers are cool,” I said.
Evan nodded sagely, as if I had just spoken a deep truth of the universe.
But it wasn’t a deep truth. It was trivial and, let’s be honest, completely uninteresting to me. And I haven’t always responded with interest and connected with his little heart. He probably won’t remember this conversation or that Spencer ever had a Power Rangers costume. But I hope he will get used to telling me about what’s going on in his life. I hope we establish a pattern of sharing thoughts and feelings and what’s happening with his friends.
Since I want to have those discussions when’s he older, when those things really matter, I need to have those discussions when he’s younger and the topics don’t really matter. I’ve seen too many parents who don’t make time to listen to the trivial things their little children want to share. They inadvertently train their kids to not bother them with that silly stuff. But it’s not silly to the kids. It’s the stuff of their life. Then when their kids’ life issues aren’t trivial, the parents wonder why the kids don’t want to share.
Great conversations with your teenagers starts by talking about red Power Ranger costumes–at 9:45pm at night, in Evan’s case.