My seven-year-old son plays it pretty close to the vest. He’s king of the monosyllabic response:
Me: Hey buddy, how was your day?
Me: What did you do at recess?
Me: Sounds fun. Tell me a little about your day?
He was feeling particularly chatty that day, as I recall. Now, I know better. I know it’s highly unlikely that they’ll talk when you want them to, but sometimes I just can’t help myself.
Last night, I was looking forward to a bath and an early bedtime. I ducked into Alex’s room, tucked in his covers, strategically molding around the Garfield book in which he’d buried his nose. I kissed his forehead, whispered good-night and headed for the door.
“Mom? Can I ask you something?”
I whispered good-bye to Me Time. “Anything.”
“There’s this kid at school. He used to be nice, you know, nice to everyone, but now he’s kind of mean.“
“Hmm. Do you think maybe he had a bad day?”
“No,” he said. “It’s like he’s a different person. He’s just mean now. He calls people names all the time. Do people really change like that?”
I know the boy, he’s big for his age and typically friendly and he has a learning disability. Alex confided that the other kids have been teasing him lately. I called in Dad and we all talked it through.
I’m so grateful I didn’t miss that moment.
There are times when I do. Sometimes I’m rushed and distracted, and I can get my priorities out of whack with the best of them. But last night I got it right, and I want to remember…if we are willing to meet them where they are, the floodgates will eventually open.