Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 Days of Repetitive Parenting: Day 23 "How was school?"

Communication is a key ingredient to successful parenting.  If we establish open communications with our children from the get go, than they are more likely to continue in that vein despite the menacing tween and teen attitudes that threaten to shut down communications altogether.

Since our kids have ventured off to school, I have been interrogating asking them, "How was school?"

Responses vary.
1st day of school in 2011
An enthusiastic "Great!"  is usually followed by detailed descriptions of the events of the day.  More often than not the response is a simple, but tired, "good," to which I might wait for the sugar high to kick in as they munch on an afternoon snack and ask again.  (Just remember when dealing with teens - food is your friend.)

1st day of 8th grade in 2011
Sometimes my question is answered by a complete grump-a-lump who might just need a nap.  In that case, I assess the situation and either pry investigate til I get to the bottom of the dilemma or let them sulk til they are ready to talk.

As our kids approached the junior and high school years, they became more apt to use those one word answer options: great, good, bad, stupid.  To get them back into proper communications it is necessary to ask open ended questions.

Tired after first bus ride home of 2011.
If I get a one word answer, I will usually follow up by asking if anything interesting or funny might have happened.  Or perhaps ask about who they sat with at lunch or who the latest couple is in high school.

Bud is quite the talker while Darlin', on the other hand, needs to be coaxed a bit more.  She always roll her eyes at me when I ask if anyone in her class is dating.  Lo and behold, the other day she comes up to me and asks enthusiastically, "Mom, guess who the latest couple in our class is?"  Wish I had taken a picture of her shock when I nailed it on the first guess!  Pays to keep those lines of communication open, if for nothing else than to see the look of proud amazement on her face, mixed with possible fear at the prospect that her mother really does have eyes everywhere.  (Never mind the fact that I happened to see the new couple a few days earlier at a local pizza joint!  But I digress....)

As I mentioned above, Bud is more apt to share the ample details of his day.  I know that I am quite the fortunate mom, to have a fourteen year old son who actually talks!  Over the years, my "How was school?" question has helped me find out a lot about his day and how he is fairing with teachers and friends.

One of my favorite memories was when he was in fourth grade.  Picking him up from school, I inquired about his day only to discover to my horror that he had had a book report due which we both had forgotten about.  As I began to get upset, he consoled me with, "Don't worry, Mom.  I got an A."  Apparently, it had been an oral presentation, so all he did was borrow a few items from friends as a costume and just talked about the book.  His first experience winging it and he's rewarded with an A!

Could it be that a simple question of "How was school?" can open up doors of communication to last a lifetime?  That is my hope and the reason for repeating this one over the years.

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