When my children were younger, they would come home from school, tell me about their day, and share all their secrets with me. I thought we would be best friends forever. I was so naïve and foolish.
All of a sudden, I noticed a shift. My children would come home from school, and the only answer to any of my questions was “Fine.” More infuriating than their lack of communication was that they talked non-stop with their friends. I found some comfort in the fact that their silence was part of entering the stage of the sullen teenage, but I started to see that it was only with me!
I still wanted to know what was going on with their lives.
One day, while driving my daughter and her friend to a basketball game, I came up with a way to listen in on their lives. The two were sitting in the very back of my minivan whispering some fabulous secret to each other that I could not hear. There was a lot of arm waving and gesturing, so I knew it had to be a good story. I played with the speaker balance on the car radio so that the music was only playing in the back of the car. The front of the car was totally silent. They had to talk a bit louder to hear each other, and I could hear everything they said.
Yes, I admit it. I was eavesdropping on my teenager.
From then on whenever my teens were in the car I changed the balance on my speakers to listen in. I never told them I did this. It was a great way to know what was happening in their lives. If there was anything I wanted to address later, I would start a conversation with, “I had lunch with a friend and she told me that XYZ is happening at school. Do you want to talk about it?”
A little bit sneaky, but quite effective.