What did you do in school today?

bekah Parenting Leave a Comment

What did you do in school today? I ask my oldest as he clicks his seat-belt in place.
Cheeks red from running, hair wild from play, he looks out the window, and says these words:

I don’t know.

He leans over to tickle his little brother. Giggles and screams erupt in the backseat.
Brothers re-united after three, apparently looooooong hours!

I’m determined. I target the mirror on his eyes.

Tell me about it bud, how was your time at school?

More giggles. More high-pitched screams…

Who I am kidding? This conversation was over long before it began.

Stomachs are growling. Nap time is looming {for one son at least}, and Tanner is not interested in the slightest about reviewing his minute-by-minute PreSchool education with his crazy mother.

Yet, here I am, day after day, asking the same question and receiving the same distracted evasive answer.

What did you do in school today?

I don’t know!

The right question with the wrong approach.

Around our worn, rectangular kitchen table, white cottage legs hold a million memories ~  the dark surface scarred from hot pizza boxes feeding friends over multiple moves, pen indentations from writing cards, a thousand sprays and wipes of snacks, marker scribbles, and peanut butter cracker crumbs. It’s around this table we share dinner as a family.

Bryan looks at Tanner and asks magic words.

T, can I ask you three questions about your day at school?

Tanner’s face lights, expectant of the questions asked specifically for him.

I watch, spellbound by what unfolds. My husband, over his plate of chicken, rice, and black beans, casually focuses his eyes on our oldest ~ no backseat distractions ~ and unwraps gift questions.

Who did you play with on the playground?
Tanner rattles off names, filling in the pauses with hand gestures and stories about fighting “bad guys” during free time.

What story did Miss Peggy read you guys?
“This one about a bear, it was a nice bear, and…”

I lean in… watching stories spill out, onto the worn table, liquid words pooling together before dripping off the edges.

Okay, third question. What was the coolest thing you learned today?
The word race continues… his hands fly, his voice energetic and hurried, recreating scenes and offering up details about his day.
We learned about the letter A. A is for anchor, and apple, and…

He knows what an anchor is?

Unbelievable!

The magic circles. Now, our oldest became the question-asker.

Dad, what did you do at work today?

He too is learning to inquire, to be an “others”seeker, with an awareness that the world is full of individuals, each with their own story ~ a story interesting enough to ask about, a story wanting to be shared. A world outside of his four-year old scope.

My prayer sky-rockets.
May we are raise sons, who, whether in the company of their peers, or adults, are comfortable answering questions and confident asking questions.

Magic dust settles.

All this time.
I’ve been asking questions of my son, but forgetting the simple concept of asking specific questions.
Reflecting in my brain, I sift through past conversations with friends. When I ask about them, I long to hear the specifics, to grasp the heartbeats in their everyday.

Are you feeling connected in your new church? 
How is the adjustment with two kiddos? 
What is the next step in his job interview?
With being overwhelmed, what can you take off your plate?
Have you tried the chocolate baby bundt cake at Corner Bakery? {don’t laugh ~ it’s an important question!}

Yet, why don’t I ask the specifics from my own child?

 
These questions are meant to draw out of the real corners of life, rather than the general expanse of open sky.

Not there there is anything wrong with asking, How was your day?

But specific questions often lead to answers one didn’t know they had until asked!

When we first moved to Atascadero, the transition was numbing.
Enter city girl into small town. A town of strangers. A town with more cows than people.
An adjustment, to say the least.

People asked how I was. And I replied with the standard.
It’s new. It’ll take time. It’s good. 

One particular Saturday I found myself on Mama Sue’s couch- the mom of my dear sister-friend, Heather. Her blue eyes reflected my green pair ~ watery and fragile.
How are you adjusting to the move?
A simple question, but with specific movement.

Hours, I sat on that couch, watery eyes turned to floor puddles, setting words free to feelings I didn’t realize I had.

It was a healing couch conversation.
Simply because of her specific, wrapped-in-love question.

Lesson learned.
Ask specific questions.

School days look different now.

In the morning, backpack already on before the oldest walks out the door, I kneel down and hug him. I pray for him, and remind him how he makes my heart smile. I tell him I can’t wait to pick him up and ask him three questions about his day.  

Be looking for some cool stories to share. I can’t wait to hear about your school adventures. 

He goes into his day with expectation. Whether it be looking for a new friend to include in his “bad guy” search, or learning unique facts about The Person of the Day, I no longer ask, How was your day?

Now, I squeeze him at pick-up, and savor the car giggles and screams. Arriving at home, I give him and his brother time to eat, wrestle, and settle in.

 {Caught stealing cookies off the kitchen counter, but at least they’re sharing}

Then, I put our youngest down for his nap, Ty grasping Mickey Mouse in one hand, and Elmo in the other. Door closed, I walk into our living room and sit with Tanner. It’s Lego time. Our time. To build. Create. Imagine. Talk.

Primary-colored miniature blocks scatter all around, we get to work on building Lego ships.

Conversation unfolds; comfortable, intentional.

Can I ask you three questions about your day?

No distractions, no forced answers,  just a comfortable back-and-forth of asking and sharing specific questions.

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