I love having conversations with the kids. They can be funny, serious, baffling, crazy and frustrating – often all at the same time. But they are always, always entertaining.
The two older kids spent a day with their grandmother yesterday awaiting their return to school today. Neither of them were very keen to go but I think this was due more to their anxiety about the imminent return to school rather than reluctance to spend time with their grandmother.
When I picked them up after work they seemed set on fighting all the way home – as usual. In what felt like a futile bid to keep a semblance of peace I asked them about their day. They never really tell me much but I thought I would try to strike up a conversation anyway.
To my complete surprise they then spent the next 20 minutes taking turns in telling me about their day. How one had Henny Penny for lunch while the other had Subway. How they spent time playing on the iPad. How they watched their nan make homemade christmas cards.
But most of all they talked about their nan’s dogs and her old farm. How there used to be Jack, Bea, Angie and Jiba and how they used to run around on a farm. Did I know that nan used to live on a farm? Did I know that Bea was a clever dog and warned off a stranger one day?
I then took the opportunity to tell them what I remembered of the farm. How Gilbert had spent some time there as a young baby. How peaceful I felt every time I visited. How I loved watching the sheep and kangaroos. They then insisted on looking at photos of the farm when they got home, the wonder of it filling their imaginations.
We ended up spending the entire ride home chatting. It was unforced, enjoyable, interesting. A far cry from the usual squabbling and complaining of our normal car rides. The kids both said they loved hearing about nan’s stories and wanted to hear more.
I rang her when I got home to tell her what they had told me. Apparently they had sat entranced at her feet as she told them little snippets of her life on the farm. Even so she was amazed when I recounted the length and enthusiasm of their conversation.
It’s times like these that I’m grateful my kids have the opportunity to spend quality time with their extended family. That they have the chance to hear others’ stories and learn about other experiences.
Most of all I’m proud and excited that they showed a genuine interest in something outside their own experience and shared this with me. And that it led to one of the best conversations we have ever shared.
This might not sound very exciting but when your kids normally strike up a conversation with you to talk about their own special interests or to ask for something, having a genuine, reciprocal conversation with them is something to celebrate!