I don’t know if it is the same in other families, but some of our best conversations happen at either ends of the day. It seems that when his mind is the most reflective, my mind is at its least thoughtful state.
Take the other night, it was late and I still had chores to accomplish before I could put myself to bed. The darkness of his room and the soothing bird calls from his sound machine made it hard for me to stay awake.
“Do you know that there will be a time when Earth will run out of water?” I sat in the dark and listened. He spoke quickly and without pause between thoughts. He must have been afraid that if he took a breath, even momentarily, I would shut down his environmental lecture.
“You have no idea the hundreds of ideas that I have in my head!” In some ways, he’s right.
During the day hours, it seems that his thoughts continuously hover around the topic of Mine Craft or other video games. He shares endless facts and his rationale for using this strategy or that one against a new online nemesis. Throughout the day, I try to change the topic of discussion and usually get some push back until I am clear, that this is a time for his ears to listen.
“Why don’t you share some of these thoughts during the day when I am more alert and awake?” I said this lightheartedly. It is important that my son, who struggles to understand my tone without seeing my expression; understands that the question wasn’t born out of frustration, but out of wonder.
“I guess when I am in my bed, I’m not distracted by everything else around me and the thoughts in my head can come through.”
This made sense. I wondered if this is the reason why he has very little extras in his bedroom. The walls are mostly bare and the only real clutter is the bottom shelf of his bedside table where he keeps stacks of notebooks. These notebooks are full of his drawings, only pencil or pen and without any color or title.
“If I color them or give them a title, how will others use their imagination?” Maybe this is the reason my son has always resisted paint by numbers or coloring books and refused our offer of art lessons. “Why do I have to learn from someone else, when I like the art that I do?”
And with that question, we strike at the very basis for many of his struggles with teachers or coaches…and even parents.
This morning, the call to join him in his room, came only a few minutes later than his normal six thirty wake up time. His first thought was of divorce and the hope that it wouldn’t hit his family because he didn’t want to travel by plane to see someone he loved. I assured him that he didn’t have to worry about this problem. Once convinced, his thoughts jumped to the Labradoodle that joined us in his room and an imaginative tale of his slippers coming to life, scaring his puppy so badly, that she melted into a pool on his floor.
“You have a writer’s brain, my son! Your ideas are so creative and flow so easily!” He smiled.
I have to remember to enjoy these moments when the sun has set or is just rising; I know there will be a time when he won’t voluntarily share and I will be forced to pry them out with far more energy than the stream of conscious conversations that I get to be a part of now. My challenge, is to take advantage of this opportunity no matter how tired or distracted that I might be.
So now I ask you, when do you have your best conversations with your child?