Making Time: Pulling Teeth
Simple conversation is sometimes so hard

“I don’t remember. I’ll tell you about it later Daddy. Not now.”

Are you serious?! I’m the one that just turned 44 and should have an excuse for starting to forget things. But instead, I’m on the receiving end of getting virtually nothing from my now 6-year-old when I try to ask simple questions like, “What did you do today?” after he gets off the bus when he gets home from school.

When I talk with the parents of his friends, they tell me things that happened because their kids apparently go on and on about their days. And I look at them as if I have no clue, because generally I don’t.

Actually, Brandon is great at telling you everything other kids did that they shouldn’t have done, just not what he did. So-and-so was rude. So-and-so got in trouble. But he seems to get amnesia about his own experiences the second he walks out the door after school. Brandon can’t tell me the first thing that happened to himself.

The Friday before his 6th birthday, the school apparently announced his name over the loudspeaker to recognize it. You would think he would tell us this because he was so excited (mind you if someone got in trouble over the loudspeaker, it would be the first thing we heard about). But no, I had to find out when someone posted a comment on Facebook wishing him a happy birthday and mentioned they heard his name. Once I found out, I asked him and he gave me a shy smile and said, “Oh yeah, that was pretty cool.” It seems he really liked it, but he couldn’t remember to let me know. I try not to take it personally.

Getting information from kids is one of those mysterious things you have to figure out as you go along. Once you think you have it, your child changes again. I thought maybe I wasn’t asking questions the right way to get answers of substance. So I decided to be more specific.

Still sometimes, no matter how it seems I approach him, Brandon will talk to Sarah about things he just won’t bring up with me. Usually it’s later at night, as things quiet down and he settles when bedtime is ending, that’s when Brandon will suddenly share what’s on his mind. But like I said, mostly with Sarah. And usually more of the negative stuff. Like if someone is being what he perceives as mean or bullying or counting him out. I’ll be honest, I’m glad he feels comfortable telling at least one of us. He tells her she is allowed to “only tell Daddy” and no one else. But he doesn’t tell me directly. At least once he tells her, I can follow up. But I definitely watch how he talks with Sarah to see if I can get him to open up more with me.

Sometimes Sarah will pull out a piece of artwork or homework and ask Brandon what it is or how he made it. Suddenly he’ll ramble on and on telling a full story. Then his brain starts to wander. And Sarah follows up, which seems to get her even more of the story. Maybe I just need to dive deeper into the hyper-specifics as opposed to asking basic information about the day. That’s really different from how I’ve done things before.

I do know that Brandon’s lack of sharing is not for my lack of interest. I’m just not finding the right way to draw out the information, which is new for me. I’m a communications guy. This is what I do. But I guess while Brandon is learning numbers and letters, I’m learning something else – how to get him to open up with me. My oldest little buddy is teaching me new things about being a dad every day. It’s something I never expected: We both have so much to learn, from each other.

Read More “Making Time” by Jason Springer


March 2023
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