For us, school starts next week.
I’m hoping things are different this time around.
Last year, Ava and Charlie went to pre-school three days a week, half days only, but I think it was incredibly beneficial to them.
Putting aside the fact that they got to hone their crafting abilities by making me dried pasta necklaces, perfect coloring inside the lines and work on sharing, there was the whole social game. They got to mingle with a bunch of strange kids (which was a good thing) and learn how to communicate and interact without stabbing the shit out of each other with sticks or clawing out each other’s retinas.
Each time I picked them up from school, I had the feeling that they would be blown away to see me, come running to the car and jump into my arms like some sappy car commercial for a Honda Odyssey.
Instead, they kinda shuffled along slowly, dragged their shoes on the ground and gave me a look like ‘Oh, it’s this guy again?’
Dude. So uncool.
Okay, okay. I understand what you’re probably thinking, this dad has kids who are only like, 3 and 4, not 13 and 14.
But seriously, what’s the deal? Am I an embarrassment? Was my fly down? Did I forget to wear pants to the kiss n’ ride line?
Almost every ride home up I-270 was the same.
ME: “How was school, guys? Did you have fun?”
THEM: (SILENCE, staring out the window longingly.)
ME: “Ava and Charlie, what did you do? This is your dad speaking. EARTH TO MY KIDS, COME IN, KIDS.
ME: Did you sing? Did you paint or do any crafts? Did you go outside and play? What was your snack today? Did anyone get in trouble? Did anyone have to sit in the green ‘time-out’ chair’?
ME (growing increasingly impatient): “Let’s go, I want some answers! I’m paying a lot of money for you guys to go there, I want to know what’s going on!”
AVA: “Daddy, you don’t pay, Mommy pays. School was fine, can we just have some fruit snacks, this is too many questions.”
And here’s the part where I fight every urge to just rip the car into a ditch, run into the woods, never to be seen again.
I mean, the reality is that I DO know what’s going on at school. I get reports in their folders, artwork for the ‘hallway gallery’ and even a few face-to-face updates as we put the kids in the car, but I want to hear it from THEM.
I guess I wanted them to be so excited that they just couldn’t contain their emotions, blasting me with verbal diarrhea of every fun and interesting thing they did while they were away from me.
I guess it’s probably just an age thing and maybe the situation will start to get better this year.
I’m interested in everything they’re learning and experiencing and want an open line of communication with these tikes as they get older.
I try and think back to when I was a kid…
…if I told my parents every little thing about my day at school or if I was just as stubborn, if I made them dig and pry for information.
So what if I didn’t tell mom and dad that I got shot in the arm (eventually it required surgery) with a pellet rifle at close range. So what if I didn’t tell them that the neighbor kid climbed up an oak tree in the cul-de-sac and took a shit in the neighbors yard or that the friend I was sitting with on the bus was the victim of an atomic wedgie and carried the waistband of his underwear home in his coat pocket while fighting back the sobs. Or the time that one of my classmates got ‘pantsed’ while reading a book report in front of our entire Language Arts class, underwear and all, bird on the loose.
THESE ARE JUST MINOR DETAILS of cool stuff that happens.
Given, things become more complex with elementary, middle and high school and I don’t need to know the full nitty-gritty, but seriously, what’s the harm in telling me about how ‘show n’ tell’ went? Or what your favorite book or color is right now?
I have a feeling that this is going to be an uphill climb for me as my kids continue to grow.
I’m trying every trick in the book to squeeze the information from them. I really want these kids to be able to talk to me about anything – peer pressure, bullying, depression, underage drinking – the hard stuff.
But if I can’t even find out what book was featured in the reading circle, it feels like I’ve got my work cut out for me.
Does anyone else have trouble getting their kids to vocalize their thoughts or observations after a day at school? How old are they? What’s your strategy?
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a sponsored post in association with my continued work with FAAR, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. Our effort is to inspire communication between you and your kids, to #TalkEarly and often with them. To learn more, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.