Friday, October 26, 2007

I Only Get What I Don't Ask For

I’ve been having lots of really interesting conversations with Bambina lately. The difficulty level in chatting with a 3 year-old mirrors that of an adolescent in that so much of what she tells me comes as a result of active and intent listening rather than direct asking. For example, if I ask, “How was preschool today?” She’ll say “Fine.” But if I tell her I’m glad she’s home and that I can’t wait to hear about her day whenever, she will randomly offer quite detailed stories when she’s good and ready. I’m therefore learning to be interested and open to chatting without needing to dictate when and in what form the chat should occur. What’s really neat about this dynamic is that she and I end up talking about really deep or really humorous stuff that we’d never broach if I insisted on the Ask-Question-Get-Answer process. I was trying to figure out the name of this style of communication when it occurred to me that it’s simply called, “talking with your kid like she’s an actual person.” Yes indeed, we have our moments of adult/child scripted dialogue such as, “Say thank you to the nice man,” and “I’m going to count to three and if you are not—whatever—by three [insert grievous consequences here].” I’d be a pretty bad mommy if we didn’t. But the majority of our chats feel like chats I’d have with anyone, albeit on a different level and about more random types of subject matter.

From the theological/existential:
“Mama? Where is Bumpa again?” Followed by the delicate, “He dead, right?” Yes my love, he died. He’s in heaven. “How’d he get there? By train?”

To the philosophical:
“Mama, how do we get here? Who makes us?”
Oooh good question! Do you mean like in a mother’s tummy or do mean something else? “I mean how come we’re here? Why? Did God make us to be here?”

To the sociological:
“Mama, why are there mean people? I don’t like mean people. Do you?”

To the unknowable-but-vital-to-answer-properly:
“Mama, where is my Chinese mother? Is she still in China?”

Deep questions all. Of course, just when I think I’ve got the next incarnation of John Locke or Jacques Barzun on my hands, we discuss this:

“Mama! Sophie pooped in her pants today! It smelled yucky! (raucous laughter….reverent, ruminative silence)…Why do poops smell so bad?”

Like I said, conversations I’d have with anyone…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

for anyone who doesn't know E personally I can attest to the truthfulness of this post. No one had made it through an evening with E without discussing at some point POOP. Girlfriend likes her potty humor.