Sometimes, I would swear Duncan is going on fifteen. When I get home from work, or when I pick him up from school, inevitably I ask "How was your day?" to which he responds "Good." I follow with "What did you do?" There are two possible responses: 1) "I don't remember."; 2) "I don't want to talk about it."
Part of me wants to be offended. These are social niceties: have a good day; how was your day; what did you do today. The thing people are supposed to do is...well...answer. It's not just that I'm his mother, and I care about what he did all day when he wasn't with me; it's also that in polite society, you come up with something to say back. Luckily, the wise woman in me, the one who peeks her head out once in a while and says "you might want to rethink that" has helped me to be quiet and patient. Many times, if I just keep quiet with my ears open, I will hear my answer. As he unwinds and develops some distance from school, he remembers things he wants to tell me. It's not so much that he doesn't want to talk about it; I think it's more that he hasn't really had a chance to think about it yet. He went to school; he lived it; he hasn't really processed it yet, and suddenly there's this overly involved woman who wants all the details. If she'll just shut up, she will eventually get the story.
If the wise woman in me doesn't get the answers, the teacher in me (whoa is the teacher in me strong!) can usually get to the heart of the matter, for she has learned that sometimes you have to ask the question in a different way. "What was your favorite thing you did today?" "What was your least favorite thing you did today?" "What did you have for snack?" "Did you build anything today?" Usually, changing the question, narrowing it, and making it a little more manageable opens up a great discussion of the day's events.
The fun part of these social conventions is that Duncan has begun to ask us what we did at work. There is little that is cuter in the almost-five set than "So, what did you do at work today, Mama?" Interestingly, the answer is usually "I taught some kids. I answered some e-mails. I went to a meeting." As I write it down, it sounds a lot like a 46 year old version of "I don't remember; I don't want to talk about it." It's almost the 16 year old "You wouldn't understand."
Maybe if I tell a better story, I will get better questions. 46 going on 16. The teacher in me is strong. Stop talking and listen.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
We've already had two snow days this winter, which is rare for a boarding school. During the last storm, Duncan and I decided to make sugar cookies, which is another rarity. I simply don't have the patience for the endless rolling, cutting, and decorating, but we were in the Valentine's Day spirit, and I thought it would be a good project to keep a young boy with ADHD occupied for a good chunk of a day at home. Once I acknowledged that we would, indeed, make a colossal mess, and that Duncan would, indeed, mix up all the frostings and sprinkles to resemble something from a bordello, we had great fun. They don't look like Martha baked them, but they were entertaining and tasty!
I have been thinking about Valentine's Day since the day we took down our Christmas tree. I know it's crazy, but it was sort of a rebound effect. A Christmas hangover, so to speak. I just couldn't bear to say good bye to the decorations, the baking, the crafting...I can't pretend I did all that much for Valentine's Day, but I did dream a lot about projects I could make and cookies I could bake. It has kept me going through the various versions of Snowpocalypse 2011. I haven't gotten around to photographing all the hearts around our house yet, but it all started with this. Duncan saw "egg in a hole" in one of his magazines and requested that I make it for him with a heart cookie cutter. Eggs and love. Why not?